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Television: FILM of the week.

THE CIDER HOUSE RULES Saturday, BBC2, 10.20pm

TOBEY MAGUIRE and Michael Caine star in this adaptation of the noted John Irving novel.

With complex issues such as abortion, incest and responsibility at its core, this is not an easy- going flick, but the performances from Maguire and Caine, who won an Oscar for his efforts, are thoroughly engaging.

Set during the Second World War, Maguire stars as Homer, a young man raised in a Maine orphanage where Dr Larch (Caine) carries out safe but illegal abortions.

Caine's character is a bizarre mix of the caring, paternal substitute, who has made a would- be medic out of his young charge (Maguire).

Larch's willingness to perform abortions is down to concern for the young women who might otherwise die at the hands of back- alley butchers.

It's clear he'd rather not perform them in a perfect world, yet, in the one he lives in, he sees it as his duty to man.

He's also addicted to ether to help him cope.

In a bid to broaden his horizons, Homer heads off to take fieldwork on an apple farm, where his eyes are opened to the good and evil of the world.

For the best part, it seems that fate has dealt Homer a barren hand, and despite his ambitious intentions, it seems likely that his life will swing full circle.

Simple acts of kindness and childish innocence abound in this subtle, yet memorable movie, which helped propel Maguire further into the mainstream with roles in Wonder Boys and Spider- Man following this ever-understated performance.

More satisfying slow-burner than rip snorter.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 5, 2003
Words:269
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