Directed by Barry Levinson
Written by Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow, based on his story.
Tiny Baby Tom Cruise stars in a movie where he plays an 80s capitalist narcissist, the same character template as good old Patrick Bateman. But the twist in this movie is that he has a secret brother who has a mental disability, played by the genius Dustin Hoffman, it turns out that the twist actually makes a huge difference to the angry white business guy template. I like that.
I’ve never seen the movie start to finish before, I’m most familiar with the character of Ray from the animaniacs sketch Rita and Runt, where the big dog spoke just like Ray. Lots of ‘definitely, definitely’ and so on. I must have seen little bits of it at some stage but all I really knew about it was that he goes to Vegas and uses his savant brother to cheat at cards and get money.
There’s some really beautiful shots as they cross the country. Especially the sunset over the desert… I’ve always liked the idea of a road trip across America and this movie isn’t helping with that desire. It was interesting watching with Anna who was in Vegas a few months previous and was able to tell me just how much the city has changed since ’88.
Does it make me love the people? I dunno, you’re kind of watching the slow humanisation of Charlie, but he’s so awful to Ray it’s hard to feel much for him. I love Ray, he’s very cute and endearing which I’m sure is the point of the entire movie. Actually yeah, once he realises that Ray was his Rain Man imaginary friend, and Ray tells him the story of how the hot water hurt the baby I loved both of them. I also love the sequence after they win big in Vegas when he teaches Ray how to dance.
Movies like this are, I think, pretty important in the way that they bring different kinds of people into the foreground and demonstrate their humanity. That said, I’m not in a position to say if this movie is a fair or balanced portrayal of someone with autism. At least it pushes it into the limelight and promotes understanding – Charlie switches from wanting to ‘cure’ Ray to genuinely trying to do what’s best for Ray and what would make Ray happy.
Bechdel test: Not so as you would notice. Susanna is probably the only named woman and she gets left behind for much of the movie. It does please me that she is also the lead love interest in Hot Shots, opposite Charlie Sheen pretending to be Tom Cruise.
Probably when Ray’s making the humming honking noise that he can hear Susanna making love with Charlie, that was very funny, but for feels…
Charlie: When did you leave?
Raymond: January 12, 1965. Very snowy that day. 7.2 inches of snow that day.
Charlie: Just after Mom died.
Raymond: Yeah Mom died January 5, 1965.
Charlie: You remember that day. Was I there? Where was I?
Raymond: You were in the window. You waved to me, “Bye bye Rain Man”, “Bye bye.”
State of Mind: I enjoyed it. It’s maybe in need of editing, I think it’s longer than it has to be but at the same time it’s relatively fine to watch – doesn’t drag, I just got really sleepy. I really hated the ending, I was crying and crying. Anna said it was okay because they were going to see each other in two weeks or whatever, but I really wanted Ray to stay with Charlie and have a happy life outside the institution.