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Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The Greatest - News Round Up

The Greatest

Starring Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon, The Greatest marks the debut of a young filmmaker and screenwriter, Shana Feste, and follows a family coping with the sudden death of their teenage son. Newcomer Carey Mulligan plays the girlfriend of the son who shows up to further complicate the grieving process for the parents. There's some buzz about both Brosnan's and Sarandon's performances as well as talk that this could be a "career-launching" role for Mulligan.

Pierce Brosnan Makes Up For Mamma Mia!

Pierce Brosnan, in search of a career path post James Bond, didn’t do himself any favors singing in the film of “Mamma Mia!” He was awful in a cheap looking, terrible movie that was an inexplicable hit.

But with “The Greatest,” which premiered last night at Sundance, all is forgiven. Brosnan and the remarkable Susan Sarandon are just perfect in a film that clearly echoes Robert Redford’s classic “Ordinary People” but has enough new twists to make it very interesting.

In the film, Allen (Brosnan) and Grace (Sarandon)’s 18-year-old son has been killed in a car accident just after losing his virginity to the girl he loves and graduating from high school. Director Shana Feste indicates well enough that Bennett (Aaron Johnson) has been the apple of their eyes. But they still have a younger teenage son (Johnny Simmons) to deal with, plus Allen’s been having an affair with a fellow professor at his college, so you know the marriage hasn’t been perfect.

Grief envelopes the family. Grace is obsessed with the man whose truck collided with her son’s and keeps vigil at his coma bedside to find out what Bennett might have said in his final moments. Allen bottles up his emotions until they make him ill. Ryan has a teen drug problem, and goes on the sly to group therapy. And there’s Bennett’s girlfriend. She’s pregnant.

Feste could have turned this all into bad “Ordinary People” or a soap opera. A first time director and screenwriter, she takes her team into a field already well trodden with clichés. But she manages to avoid most of them, and carve out a simple new take on an old story with class and subtlety. Carey Mulligan makes a powerful debut herself as Rose, the pregnant and scared girlfriend. Sarandon is a knockout as the grieving and not necessarily sympathetic mom. And Brosnan, this time, is in right key.

Sundance Review: The Greatest

As I was walking out of the theater after seeing The Greatest, I had the urge to find myself a broom closet or some other nearby private place so I could cry for at least five minutes. It’s that type of movie and not just because it’s so sad. It’s a very emotional film all around that will likely have people dabbing their eyes as they watch two parents come to terms with the loss of their son. The Greatest is both heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once.

The film opens with a semi-steamy scene between Bennett (Aaron Johnson) and Rose (Carey Mulligan). Afterwards when they’re in the car together, Bennett is about to confess his feelings to Rose when a truck hits them from behind and Bennett is killed. The story follows Bennett’s mother (Susan Sarandon), father (Pierce Brosnan), his brother Ryan (Johnny Simmons) and almost-girlfriend Rose (Carey Mulligan) as each of them grieves both separately and together for the loss of Bennett, whom we learn throughout the movie, was an all around great guy.

Bennett’s mother grieves day and night for her son, while his father is attempts to detach himself from the loss in an effort to stay strong for his family. Ryan has lived in the shadow of his brother all of his life and now even after his brother’s death he’s still playing second fiddle. He turns to a teen grief support group where he meets Ashley (Zoe Kravitz), another grieving sibling who understands what he’s going through. Rose, shows up at Bennett’s family’s house to introduce herself and having no where else to go, they agree to take her in. Her presence adds a new layer of grief as Rose wants to know Bennett better through them, yet no one in the family is really emotionally capable of talking to her.

As we watch Bennett’s family and Rose grieve, we get the occasional flashback of Bennett through Rose’s memory. It is through these flashbacks that we come to understand just how unique their relationship was. While the flashbacks are happy, they’re bittersweet because we know how things are going to turn out for Bennett and Rose’s budding romance.

The Greatest has moments of levity that keep the movie from becoming entirely too depressing but for the most part, this is a film about love and grief. Sarandon in particular delivers such a raw performance that at times, it becomes uncomfortable to watch her because it’s clear her character is on the verge of falling apart and though her husband wants to help her, he doesn’t know how. Brosnan delivers a fantastic performance as the helpless husband who’s bottling up his grief for the sake of his family. As Ryan, Simmons carries the role well as the occasionally strung out and slightly bitter younger brother who secretly admired his big brother despite always being outshined by him. Surrounded by exceptional acting, Mulligan holds up well as Rose, the sweet girl who’s dealing with her own grief and looking to get to know the man she believes was the love of her life.

In general, I’m apprehensive to see films that seem to be sad for sadness’ sake, however The Greatness really does successfully capture the heartbreaking grief involved in the loss of a child as a family tries figure out how to move past it. The grief in the film feels real and if you can handle the almost painful realism, this could be a cathartic experience for anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of losing a loved one. What’s more, there’s a love story here that is both happy and sad, as we see how Bennett and Rose got together and how their relationship played out up until the final moments of his life. I let the theater wanting a good cry and not just because the movie was sad but because there’s an emotional depth here which rings true.


The actress is sublime in this film. British newcomer Carey Mulligan deserves a special mention as Rose, the 18-year old who fell in love with a boy only to have never gotten to know him before his tragic death. This is a ferociously talented actress to watch for.

Mulligan dismisses Sundance buzz
Monday, January 19, 2009, 14:22

Carey Mulligan has dismissed the buzz around her at the Sundance Film Festival as "a bit blah".

"No [I don't feel pressure]," the British actress said, when asked how she felt about being touted as "the next big thing" at the festival, where she is promoting two films.

"It's all sort of blah. It's just good to be here with two films that I really love and that I had a good time working on."

The 23-year-old was speaking at the Sundance premiere of her new film The Greatest, in which she stars alongside Susan Sarandon and Pierce Brosnan.

She also appears in An Education, adapted from the Nick Hornby novel and starring Alfred Molina.
Click here!

"Sundance is a circus but it's really cool," she said. "I love it. We were so excited when we got in."


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