Greatest, The (Review)

(4/09/10; Drama)
Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon, Carey Mulligan, Johnny Simmons, Aaron Johnson, Michael Shannon
SCR/DIR: Shana Feste
MPAA: R for language, some sexual content and drug use.
1 hour 36 mins
BOX: $474,129

Powerful drama concerns the aftermath of a tragic car accident that claims the life of a teenage boy.

Brosnan and Sarandon are pitch perfect as his parents, each dealing with the death in their own ways: mom obsesses over the boy’s final minutes and yearns to connect with the truck driver (Shannon, amazing in just one scene) who hit him but lies in a coma; dad avoids the subject, attempting to smooth things over with small talk. Mulligan (fresh off her Oscar nomination for An Education) shows up pregnant with the son’s child and is invited to live with the family.

The film emerges as a thematic counterpart to Ordinary People (1980) in exploring the ways that simmering tensions in the aftermath of a tragedy can have volatile – and at times redemptive – results. Oh sure, it has its share of clichés and dropped subplots but the movie works because the performances are so strong.

Sarandon has played similar parts in Moonlight Mile (2002) and In the Valley of Elah (2007) but she’s no less terrific in a demanding role here. In his post-007 career, Brosnan (also an executive producer) has become a dependable character actor capable of plumbing layers of emotional depth. Bring hankies.


Author: Dennis Willis

Dennis Willis is an award-winning producer, TV host, producer, director, editor (he preferred Avid until a torrid affair with Adobe Premiere, and the rest is history), author and film critic (print and radio). Dennis produced and hosted the TV programs Reel Life, FilmTrip, Soundwaves (1983-2008) and produces the annual Soundwaves Xmas program. He is currently the film critic on KGO Radio in San Francisco, and a member of both the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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