A true humanist masterpiece of the silver screen, justifiably recognized during the Oscar awards, Rain Man was directed by Barry Levinson, also the director of Thelma and Louise, in 1989. The story is captivating: Tom Cruise, alias Charlie Babbitt, believes he will inherit a fortune after the death of his father. He is mistaken. His brother Raymond, whose existence he is totally unaware of and portrayed by Dustin Hoffman, is awarded the entire inheritance. He sets out to find his brother and discovers that he suffers from autism and is interned in a mental institution. He kidnaps his brother in a fit of rage. This is the start of a road movie aboard a pearl white convertible Buick Roadmaster, the only part of Charlie's inheritance. He soon realizes his attachment to his brother despite the latter's almost unbearable personality traits. He will then fight to try to gain custody of the brother who has become so dear to him.
This dramatic comedy is far from being a tear-jerker, even if Hans Zimmer's soundtrack is heartbreaking; Dustin Hoffman is dazzling in his character role and is truly inhabited by the mentally impaired character he plays. His talents of arithmetical genius and capacity for memorization are staggering and draws the two brothers closer together. Their mutual distrust gives way to sincere friendship. The Buick Roadmaster is indeed a basic element of a journey that unites them forever: this trip across the United States in a convertible will become unforgettable. This 1949 model based on the Oldsmobile of the day is splendid, although we could have wished for a breakdown just to admire the 150 horsepower 8-cylinder engine.
Combining a selfish hustler with a person gifted with an extraordinary and extreme personality, Levinson found the perfect recipe to create a divine fable. The message of the film conveys that our society is marked by deep communication gaps and a lack of subjective judgement. An astronomical box-office hit, it made a breathtaking but well-earned 172 million dollars. The car is on display at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles for unconditional fans who want to admire this stunning Buick. It's a brilliant film with fine actors and a car in a leading role that you should surely see again soon!