Up in Arms on the Home Front

Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire) is the favorite child of Dr. Larch (Michael Caine), an orphanage director and obstetrician rolled into one. He not only delivers babies, he takes them off the hands of mothers who don't want or can't care for them, and he unquestioningly performs abortions if that's what a woman chooses. Dr. Larch is something of a saint but his addiction to sniffing ether makes him less than a perfect prochoice advocate.

Larch wants Homer to follow in his footsteps, but Homer refuses to assist with abortions. To avoid a confrontation (and also because he's fallen in love), Homer goes out into the wide world in search of knowledge and independence. He learns that human relations are messy and complicated, and that one must take responsibility for one's actions based on a moral code that's not necessarily in tune with prescribed social rules posted on the cider house wall. He performs an abortion on an incest victim and in doing so becomes a man.

Flesh and blood: Lara Belmont in The War Zone
photo: John Clifford
Flesh and blood: Lara Belmont in The War Zone


The War Zone
Directed by Tim Roth
Written by Alexander Stuart
A Lot 47 Films release
Opens December 10

The Cider House Rules
Directed by Lasse Hallstrom
Written by John Irving
A Miramax release
Opens December 10

The Cider House Rules is being passed off as a film in support of a woman's right to choose, but its implicit position is that abortion is wrong except in cases of rape or incest. Worse still, it makes men the arbiters of what happens to a woman's body and the abortion debate a defining factor of manhood. The mind boggles at the plethora of patriarchal assumptions. Hallstrom's direction signals every turn of the plot five minutes before it occurs, and the actors are all dreadfully earnest, none more so than Maguire, who seems to be channeling Forrest Gump.

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