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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review of film: “THE GREATEST”

2010, 04-05:

Review of filmTHE GREATEST


Shana Feste


Shana Feste


Carey Mulligan
Aaron Johnson
Pierce Brosnan       
Susan Sarandon

Johnny Simmons   

Kevin Hagan           
Miles Robbins
Cara Seymour
Ramsey Faragallah
Colby Minifie           
Zoë Kravitz   
Michael Shannon   
Dante E. Clark

Ron Scott

MPAA Rating:

R for language, some sexual content and drug use.


“She’s coming back very soon.”
“When in grief—.”
“The one bad thing was--.”
“…. like grief culture.”
“… yet to say goodbye…”
“I loved him more than anything.”
“I’m gonna sue your whole family!”
“He knew it was bad.”

MY Rating:

8 of 10 stars (based on an advance screening of the 99-minute film).

                                      MOPING is Not Coping

Bennett Brewer (AARON JOHNSON) always had a “thing” for cute schoolmate Rose (CAREY MULLIGAN) & vice versa, but he always found himself tongue-tied when her tried to talk to her...

...  The last day of high school, he finally got the courage to really speak up to Carey (as she’d been hoping he’d do).  They got along so well, it soon led to romance between them…

…  As fate would have it, their car is hit from behind by a vehicle driven by Jordan Walker (MICHAEL SHANNON), and Aaron dies from the accident.  His mother Grace (SUSAN SARANDON) simply cannot cope with what happened, and obsesses over the event to the point that she keeps visiting Michael (who’s in a coma in a hospital) to try to find out the last words spoken to him by Aaron…

…  Susan is so plagued by the death, she cannot bear to confront everyday existence, insisting Aaron’s clothes and room not be touched, regularly looking at a videotape of the car crash, etc....

...  Her attitude makes life unbearable for Aaron’s professor dad Allen (PIERCE BROSNAN) and Aaron’s younger brother Ryan (JOHNNY SIMMONS), neither of whom are able to truly accept the grief they feel over the loss of Aaron…

…  After her recovery from the car accident, Carey finds out that she’s PREGNANT by Aaron, &, having no family she can rely on, she tells his family the news.  She’s an honest, straight-forward young woman, & Pierce warmly accepts her and insists she live with them.  But Susan is very antagonistic and hostile towards Carey, blaming her for Aaron’s dying…

…  Carey tries to prepare a “baby book” as her pregnancy proceeds, she deeply wants to know MORE about Aaron as a person, but she’s unable to get anyone in the family to truly answer her innocent QUESTIONS about him (since the others find it too hard to deal with his death)…  Eventually, that attitude from them (& especially Susan’s coldness) tends to alienate Carey…

…  Little by little (thru flashbacks & otherwise), secrets of the family (and “peripheral” people) are revealed--  a past affair, reasons for the “detached” attitude of drug-user Johnny & his girlfriend Ashley (ZOË KRAVITZ), the demeanor of Carey’s best friend, etc…

…  Will grief-counseling end up HELPING Johnny cope with the loss of Aaron?…  Will Michael ever wake up from his coma & tell Susan what she wants to know?…  Will Pierce ever be able to open up & accept his own inner grieving?… 

…  Will Carey ever really LEARN information she’s seeking about Aaron?…  Will Susan be able to get THRU her fixations enough to live realistically?…  Will Carey ever be able to RETURN to the family?… 

...  Will any true “BONDS” eventually allow the separate characters to come “TOGETHER” in any real way?…  And WHO are they talking about when someone is described as “the greatest”?…

…  There’s a lot of intense action and undercurrents going on in this movie.  While it may appear on the surface to be a “potboiler” type of film, it’s NOT, in that the characters become very “REAL” in their behavior, actions and attitudes… 

…  The movie “works” because all the four major figures do a FINE job of acting, actually coming across as “underplaying” where you might expect overplaying in their roles: 

...  Pierce (an executive producer of the film) is particularly controlled in his “internal” emotional work, & Susan keeps her character’s superficial “craziness” on what turns out to be a tight (tho vacillating) fervent “leash” of plausibility…

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