This is a simple story about a simple man and his even simpler brother. Simplicity is good. Everybody says so.

The film is like a big cloud in a white sky that moves slowly away, leaving no trace.

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Tom Cruise, the simple man, wants to be rich. He likes all the things rich people have. He is young and shouts into telephones and is rude to strangers. He is not clever because his business ventures fail. He is rude to his girlfriend, too.

When his father dies, he is left an old car and some flowers. The remaining $3million is given to the doctor, who looks after Dustin Hoffman, the even simpler brother. Tom doesn't think this is fair.

When he goes to the special hospital, where the doctor works, to try and get his hands on the money, he has a shock. He doesn't know about Dustin.

"I have a brother?!"

Dustin acts like a nervous child. He talks to himself and has tantrums when things aren't right. He eats food with a toothpick. He watches television. He likes the games shows. He has a brilliant memory.

Tom takes Dustin away and they drive in the car. Tom talks all the time and then Dustin says, "I'm a good driver. I can drive down the driveway." He says this a lot.

Tom didn't like daddy. Dustin can't remember whether he liked him, or not.

They have adventures on the road. They sleep in new places, like motels, and play cards in Las Vegas, where Dustin meets a lady, called Iris. He learns to dance and Tom buys him a suit in a shop.

Tom stops being rude to strangers and starts being nicer and doesn't think about being rich anymore and it's alright really, even if he can't talk to Dustin like he would to ordinary people, and Dustin smiles once - or is it twice?

This is not a great film. It is not a terrible film, either. It is a long film. Hoffman is a proper person in real life and you worry about that, because it doesn't seem right to think how clever he is at being simple.

The story concerns money and family. Some people believe that's what Americans like best. Perhaps, to be so slow and eveything, to look at disability in a soft light, to make sad things happy is a funny way of saying sorry.

Reviewed on: 14 Sep 2004
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A man discovers his humanity on a road trip with his autistic brother.
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Director: Barry Levinson

Writer: Ronald Bass, Barry Morrow

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino, Jerry Molen, Jack Murdock, Michael D Roberts, Ralph Seymour, Lucinda Jenny

Year: 1988

Runtime: 127 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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