Bernie Morris

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The United States Of Leland Review


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In The United States of Leland, vaunted young actor Ryan Gosling ostensibly plays the mysterious title character, Leland P. Fitzgerald, a teenager facing a prison sentence for the murder of the mentally challenged younger brother of his ex-girlfriend Becky, but for the most part he's doing a passable Jake Gyllenhaal impression.

Maybe I've seen too many Gyllenhaal movies, but Leland's slightly hunched posture and quizzical facial expression, indicative of a familiar detached dreaminess, recalls indie prince Jake constantly, right down to the casting of go-to indie girlfriend Jena Malone as Becky (who acted alongside Gyllenhaal in Donnie Darko). To be fair, I wasn't thinking of Gyllenhaal for every second Gosling was on screen. Sometimes I was musing over his unfortunate resemblance to Screech from TV's Saved by the Bell.

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