Monday, February 8, 2010

Posted by cendol

The Greatest provides a powerful glimpse into the depths of a family's grief. Writer-Director Shana Feste delivers a finely-honed script and very capable direction to give the actors plenty of room to deal with their emotional burdens while still keeping the story moving along. One reason is the deft interlacing of the backstory that led to 18-year-old Bennett Brewer's death—a violent collision while his car sat in the middle of the road and he spoke fervently to Rose (British actress Carey Mulligan). Bennett's parents, played by Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon, find Rose thrust into their lives, and along with brother Sean (Miles Robbins—son of Sarandon and Tim Robbins) they all deal with their loss.

While the script is tight, the acting is even better. Brosnan gives the performance of his life as the mathematics professor who is emotionally devastated but can't let it out. And Sarandon is equally impressive as the obsessive mother whose grief is pushing the borders of her sanity. But the real find may be Mulligan, who has an Audrey Tautou (Amelie) innocent vibrancy that declares a star is born.

As one might expect, this is an emotionally wrenching movie, but not an entirely depressing one. There is a message of hope, even though it might come in a package too conveniently wrapped and delivered. And while its theme may be a problem at the box office, those that take it in will be rewarded for their investment.

Sundance Moment: Director Feste told the audience she wrote the script while she was a nanny. Sarandon said she didn't like seeing the movie, but never revealed why. Perhaps because it dealt so vividly with a painful subject. But maybe because the movie made her look old, haggard and an emotional wreck. Props to her for taking the role.


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