A DOG'S PURPOSE
One of the world's most renowned directors, LASSE HALLSTROM
(Directed by) is best known to audiences as the maker of such poignant but
resolutely unsentimental films as My Life as a Dog, What's Eating Gilbert Grape
and The Cider House Rules.
The son of an amateur filmmaker, Hallstrom was born in Stockholm on June 2,
1946. He began his professional career in high school when, with the assistance
of a group of friends, he made a short film about some schoolmates who had
formed a band.
In 1975, Hallstrom made his debut with the romantic drama A Guy and a Gal. Two
years later, he focused his lens on one of Sweden's most famous exports in ABBA:
The Movie. He subsequently made a number of romantic comedies; but it was not
until 1985, with My Life as a Dog, that Hallstrom had his international
breakthrough. A bona fide art-house hit, My Life as a Dog was the touching and
wholly un-patronizing coming-of-age story of a young boy sent to live with
relatives when his terminally ill mother can no longer care for him. The film
earned a score of international honors, including the Best Foreign Film at the
Golden Globe Awards and a New York Film Critics Circle award. Hallstrom received
Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Following the success of My Life as a Dog, Hallstrom remained in Sweden making
films. In 1991, he came to the U.S. and made his stateside debut with Once
Around. A romantic comedy, which starred Holly Hunter and Richard Dreyfuss, it
enjoyed a favorable reception. Two years later, the director's international
reputation was further solidified with the film What's Eating Gilbert Grape. The
film centered around the travails of the title character (played by Johnny Depp),
a young man longing for change from his mundane, everyday existence. It featured
strong performances all around, particularly from Depp and a then-unknown
Leonardo DiCaprio, who earned Oscar and Golden Globe Award nominations for his
portrayal of Gilbert's mentally handicapped younger brother.
Hallstrom's follow-ups to Gilbert were Something to Talk About (1995), and an
adaptation of John Irving's The Cider House Rules (1999). The latter, featured a
script by Irving and starred Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron and Michael Caine.
Hallstrom was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director for the
film. The following year Hallstrom scored yet another art-house hit with the
romantic comedy drama Chocolat. The tale of a small-town candymaker who shakes
up her community by staying open on Sundays earned numerous award nominations,
including four Golden Globe Award nominations and five Oscar nominations. In
2001, Hallstrom's pace showed no signs of lagging with the release of The
Shipping News, which earned positive critical notice and earned a healthy keep
at art-house box offices. His recent credits also include An Unfinished Life
(2005), Casanova (2005) and Dear John (2010). Dear John, adapted from the novel
by Nicholas Sparks, starred Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried and made a strong
box-office performance, knocking off Avatar after seven weekends at No. 1. His
next film, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, which starred Ewan McGregor and Emily
Blunt, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was released by
CBS Films. Also in 2011, Hallstrom directed the thriller The Hypnotist, which
was Sweden's Oscar entry for 2012. In 2013, he directed Safe Haven, based on
the novel of the same name by Sparks, which tells the story of a young woman
with a mysterious past who bonds with a widower and is forced to confront the
dark secret that haunts her. The film grossed $97 million worldwide, making it
one of the highest grossing Sparks films of all time. Hallstrom subsequently
directed Walt Disney Pictures' The Hundred-Foot Journey, which garnered broad
critical acclaim and a Golden Globe Award nomination for Helen Mirren's
performance as a Michelin star chef.
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