Cider House Rules, The

Rated 4.0 During World War II, an 18-year-old (Tobey Maguire) leaves the country orphanage where he grew up to make his way in the world, working in an apple orchard and falling for his best friend’s girl (Charlize Theron) while the friend is away at war. Writer John Irving adapts his own novel into a sincere, sagacious fable of lessons taught and learned among the forests and orchards of Maine. The film feels compressed—probably unavoidably so, given the dense plots and teeming characters of Irving’s other books—but not oversimplified. Director Lasse Hallstrom (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, My Life as a Dog) shapes the material with loving hands and draws fine performances—especially from Michael Caine as the compassionate doctor who runs the orphanage and Delroy Lindo as the imposing, estimable, yet deeply flawed foreman of the cider house crew.