Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) receives bad news while working for his new contract: His father, from whom he has been very estranged for years, has passed away. After traveling to Los Angeles to attend the funeral, Charlie discovers that he won’t receive anything from his father’s inheritance that he was hoping for. Instead, he learns that his father is leaving all his money to the caregivers of his autistic brother, Raymond (Dustin Hoffman). Charlie doesn’t know his brother since Raymond lives in a special institution. Once the shock of a brother’s existence that he seems to have no memory of is over, Charlie takes Raymond out of the institution to get a bit of the inheritance.
Taking his brother out of the institution to have a road trip around the USA, Charlie not only learns how to cope with Raymond’s character and illness but begins to care for his brother. Surprisingly, realizing his ability to love, he reaches the conclusion that money is not everything in life.
Rain Man is a famous road movie that draws attention with its story about autism. The story is not very original, but it has that essential element that makes you connect with the characters. The film successfully manages to make us empathize with the characters and situations. For this reason, it deserves to be among the great films that the viewers remember many years later.
The movie is based on a real character named Kim Peek. The film’s screenwriter says that he met Peek during a congress of an association of children with disabilities. Since then, he wanted to bring his story to the big screen. Dustin Hoffman also met with Peek many times to truly grasp the gestures and to be more accurate with his interpretation of an autistic character.
Very few films manage to combine drama and comedy so skillfully. The director Barry Levinson enters into a subject which hadn’t been focused on at that period of time in cinema, such as autism. He achieves a moving, thoughtful, tender, funny, and absolutely entertaining script that binds it all together. Although more than 2 hours of duration is a bit long, and some scenes are pretty similar, the screenplay and montage, in general, are pretty well balanced, thanks to the contrast of comedy and drama.
Despite the fact that the story of “Rain Man” could be a perfect fit for any decent basic movie, Levinson manages to turn simplicity into a narrative exercise in style and rhythm. The film tells a drama that is not tearful, but that invites compassion, especially due to the outstanding performance of the leading duo. Levinson offers moments and scenes to remember that have remained lingering in the collective imagination, such as the scene at the airport, the chopstick scene, and the dance at the hotel…
Characters and acting
“Rain Man” has one of the best performances in cinema history. What to say about Dustin Hoffman, one of the best in Hollywood! Sensational acting! His portrayal of an autistic person was quite realistic and simply masterful. His gestures, movements, and reactions are really credible and help a lot to provide the required dramatic force to drive the character and the story forward. The character isn’t one dimensional either; as we have often seen actors fall culprit to developing repetitive mannerisms while playing difficult roles.
Tom Cruise plays a selfish guy detached from the family to where his own father practically disinherits him. The contrast that Levinson makes here between one brother and another is important; while one systematically seeks profit (business, inheritance, and casino), the other considers money less important than being in bed at eleven o’clock or wearing only underpants. This disinterest in money caused by his illness becomes medicine for Charlie (Tom Cruise), who evolves as the film progresses.
Music and cinematography
Barry Levinson’s cinematography is simple but good; his use of light, beautiful long shots of two brothers, road trip scenes, the panoramic camera movements, handheld shots; all well worked in detail. It is also worth mentioning that aesthetically elaborated costumes and settings specially made for the characters are one of the movie’s merits.
It is no surprise that the soundtrack by Hans Zimmer is a delight and one of the film’s strong points; given his credibility and range. Some beautiful melodies make the footage even more emotional. The shots in which Cruise and Hoffman walk together, accompanied by the magnificent score is simply excellent.
“Rain Man” is a crucial movie in cinema history with all of its contributors: Levinson, Cruise, and above all, Dustin Hoffman. With eight Oscar nominations and four wins; best picture, best actor (Dustin Hoffman), best director, and best original screenplay, the movie is most applauded by critics and audiences, a double that is seldom seen in cinema history. In a word, unforgettable!