The United States Of Leland review

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Puppy-dog-eyed Leland P Fitzgerald (Ryan Gosling) seems to be the kindest, calmest teenager imaginable. Yet we meet this gentle soul in a juvenile detention centre. His crime? Stabbing an autistic boy 20 times. His reason? A mystery. As Leland tells his prison tutor (Don Cheadle), "You want a `why'? Well, maybe there isn't one. Maybe this is just something that happened." Maybe... Or maybe writer/director Matthew Ryan Hoge is trying too hard to retain a dreamy air of mystery. He certainly frustrates with this intangible drama floating between implausible characters and will-o'-the-wisp subplots as it teases viewers with vague explanations and possible motives (think Elephant).Many characters orbit Leland, but only Cheadle's conflicted teacher and Kevin Spacey's dislocated, disdainful PA convince. The rest are candyfloss caricatures, scattered to the wind and soon forgotten. Like the film, really.

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