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Not to be confused with Liam Lynch’s “The United States of Whatever”—or with Manic, the 2001 flick that also featured Don Cheadle as a troubled teen’s confessor—The United States of Leland is another unsurprising dispatch from the adolescent state of anomie. Leland (Ryan Gosling) has done something bad, although he doesn’t remember the incident—“at least not the stuff they want me to,” his disembodied voice pouts over the opening scene’s backward-swooping music and shaky-cam images of a playground. It soon becomes clear that Leland killed a young neighbor and has been removed from the upscale suburban home where he lived with his incongruously glamorous mother (Lena Olin) to a juvenile facility. There he meets Pearl (Cheadle), a writing teacher who bonds with him—but also sees the boy’s story as the source for a potential best seller. That theme is highlighted by the arrival of Leland’s long-absent father (Kevin Spacey in his prickly mode), who turns out to be an imperious celebrity novelist. In addition to comparable premises, Leland and Manic have similar noodling-guitar scores (this time by Jeremy Enigk rather than Michael Linnen and David Wingo). The newer film, however, spends a lot more time outside juvie. We meet Leland’s true love (Jena Malone), a tormented druggie who happens to be the victim’s sister, as well as her parents (Martin Donovan and Ann Magnuson) and sister (Michelle Williams) and the latter’s hotheaded boyfriend (Chris Klein). Writer-director Matthew Ryan Hoge has structured his overplotted tale as a continuity-hopping mystery, so it would be wrong to reveal much about Leland’s motivation. Viewers can be assured, however, that all ambiguity will be banished before the final reel: The intermittently existential Leland dismisses people who “want a why,” yet that’s just what Hoge provides. Indeed, everything about the film’s scenario and execution feels unauthentic, proving that The United States of Leland could happen only in a country called Hollywood. —Mark Jenkins