An unbelievably good acting performance by Dustin Hoffman elevates a decent movie into a very good one.
Time Out saysSeeing the finished product, you can see why there was such a turnover of directors and writers. There is no story, no motor, and given the nature of the premise, nothing much can happen; so it's lucky that Levinson, a fine observer of human behaviour washing about, was signed to make this increasingly costly dramatic standoff look busy. Hoffman does a self-contained turn, Cruise does Handsome Classes, though people say he's getting better. Charlie Babbitt (Cruise), a two-bit hustler trading cars, learns that Raymond (Hoffman), the brother he's forgotten, is to inherit three million dollars, and zones in to chisel him out of it. Raymond is autistic and institutionalised, but in their time together on the road, Charlie learns Raymond's limitations and windfall gifts - he can memorise numbers - and discovers his own decency. Raymond is a fixed point for Charlie to develop against, and just to amplify that Charlie is a stranger in a strange land, even his girlfriend Susanne (Golino) exists more fully in another language. Basically, it is a two-hander in which one side is stalled and stays stalled, devoid of an overview which might illuminate. Hard to do, though.