The United States of Leland

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The United States of Leland is a 2003 film about a meek teenaged boy named Leland P. Fitzgerald who has inexplicably committed a shocking murder. In the wake of the killing, his teacher in prison tries to understand the senseless crime, while the families of the victim and the perpetrator struggle to cope with the aftermath.

Written and directed by Matthew Ryan Hoge.
Crime. Confusion. Compassion. They're all just states of mind.

Leland P. Fitzgerald[edit]

  • This one is something a friend of mine said to me. "You have to believe that life is more than the sum of its parts, kiddo." I remember it right now to the "kiddo" part. But when I think about what she said, the same thing always comes into my head. What if you can't put the pieces together in the first place?
  • You want a why. Well, maybe there isn't one. Maybe...maybe this is just something that happened.
  • The worst part is knowing that there is goodness is people. Mostly it stays deep down and buried. Maybe we don't have God because we're scared of the bad stuff. Maybe we're really scared of the good stuff. Because if there's no God, well, that means it's inside of us and we could be good all the time if we wanted. So when we do bad things, it'd be because we want to or because we have to. Or maybe we just need the bad stuff to remind us what the good stuff is in the first place.
  • I think there are two ways you can see the world. You either see the sadness that's behind everything or you choose to keep it all out. Your heart can't break if you don't let the world touch it.
  • And that's when I figured out that tears couldn't make somebody who was dead, alive again. There's another thing to learn about tears: they can't make somebody who doesn't love you any more love you again. It's the same with prayers. I wonder how much of their lives people waste crying and praying to God. If you ask me, the devil makes more sense than God does. I can at least see why people would want him around. It's good to have somebody to blame for the bad stuff they do. Maybe God's there because people get scared of all the bad stuff they do. They figure that God and the Devil are always playing this game of tug-of-war with them. And they never know which side they're gonna wind up on. I guess that tug-of-war idea explains how sometimes, even when people try to do something good, it still turns out bad.
  • It covers my eyes. It's all I can see. Say there's some kids playing baseball. All I see is the one kid they won't let play because he tells corny jokes and no one thinks they're funny. Or I see a boy and a girl in love and kissing, you know. I just see that they're gonna be one of those sad old couples one day who just cheats on each other and can't even look each other in the eye. And I feel it. I feel all of their sadness. I feel it probably worse than that sad old couple or that corny kid will ever feel it.
  • And that's when I figured out that tears couldn't make somebody who was dead alive again. There's another thing to learn about tears, they can't make somebody who doesn't love you any more love you again. It's the same with prayers. I wonder how much of their lives people waste crying and praying to God. If you ask me, the devil makes more sense than God does. I can at least see why people would want him around. It's good to have somebody to blame for the bad stuff they do. Maybe God's there because people get scared of all the bad stuff they do. They figure that God and the Devil are always playing this game of tug-of-war game with them. And they never know which side they're gonna wind up on. I guess that tug-of-war idea explains how sometimes, even when people try to do something good, it still turns out bad.
  • The worst part is knowing that there is goodness in people. Mostly it stays deep down and buried. Maybe we don't have god because we're scared of the bad stuff. Maybe we're really scared of the good stuff. Because if there is no god, then that means it's inside of us and we can be good all the time if we wanted. So when we do bad things maybe it's because we want to, or because we have to. Or maybe we just need the bad stuff to remind us what the good stuff is in the first place.

Other[edit]

  • Albert T. Fitzgerald: I recall when our lives were unusual and electric. When we burned with something close to fire. But now we sway to a different rhythm. Lives lived without meaning or even directed hope. The passage of time measured only by loss. Loss of a job, loss of a minivan...a son.
  • Mrs. Calderon: You have to believe that life is more than the sum of its parts, kiddo.
  • Pearl Madison: Just because what you did was wrong doesnt mean that giving up on your life is right.
  • Pearl Madison: Love is when you can't get somebody out of your mind. When they are your first thought in the morning and your last thought at night. Maybe it's not in your heart but it is in your head.

Dialogue[edit]

TV Reporter: Why did you do it, Leland?
Leland: Because of the sadness.
TV Reporter: What sadness? Whose sadness?
Leland: Your sadness.


Pearl Madison: I'm only human, man.
Leland: It's funny how people only say that after they do something bad. I mean, you never hear someone say, "I'm only human" after they rescue a kid from a burning building.


Lady on Airplane: Aren't you an actor?
Albert Fitzgerald: Aren't we all, dear.


Becky Pollard: I'm serious, okay? I want you to say you're always gonna to be there.
Leland: Well, sometimes I'm somewhere else.
Becky Pollard: Just tell me that everything's gonna to be okay.
Leland: I can't really make sure everything's okay.
Becky Pollard: I know, but... Sometimes you say things that aren't all the way true, but you say them anyways because you want to be true. You know, maybe, maybe that's good enough. Just... just tell me everything's gonna be okay. Whisper it in my ear, that's all.
Leland: [In a full voice into her ear] Everything's gonna be okay.


Leland: You know what the funny thing about earthquakes is? After an earthquake you see people pulling other people out of broken down buildings and people hugging and junk because they saw a little girl's shoe in the middle of the road and no little girl around. Then a couple days later they forget all about it...
Pearl Madison: Well it still shows you that there's goodness in people.
Leland: During earthquakes at least...


Leland: how to you see the world, bro?
Pearl Madison: Full of possibilities. I think that good things abound positive things. What about you?
Leland: Hmm... I think there are two ways to see it. One's like what you said, where our lives are ok. And maybe stuff's wrong but you don't see it.
Pearl Madison: What's the other way?
Leland: When you see what's really there.
Pearl Madison: The sadness?

External links[edit]

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