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Movie Review: The Greatest

Prinz Lee image

Prinz Lee wrote this review 5 years ago

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Written 3/26/11

Okay, not only is this a great film… This is a fan-fucking-tastic film! I just walked out of the theater feeling every single bit of this flick and that’s how I love feeling. I love it when a movie just takes control of my mind, body, and soul and sails my existence into a realm of drama… and boy did this film have it. It was drama x10 to be exact! The most ironic thing was that when the marketing company sent me the screening invite, I was iffy on it, but my attitude was “Ah… a free flick… why not!?!” and from the start all through the end, aside from untouchable masterpieces like Lee Daniels’s Precious or Sam Mendes’s Revolutionary Road, this has to be one of the most depressing films I’ve ever seen. However; due to irony’s bitch… it was so emotionally harsh, deep, and dark, I loved it! This piece is driven by lots of passion. And in the end, The Greatest, is an exploration of love – a first love, a lost love, the love of parents, love by trying to make things work out in the darkest of moments, and a couple’s second chance at love.

This powerful drama of love lost and found is the acclaimed writing/directing debut of filmmaker Shana Feste. Starring Piece Brosnan, Susan Sarandon, and Carey Mulligan, tells the story of Allen and Grace Brewer (Brosnan and Sarandon), a grief-stricken couple whose family has been pushed to the breaking point by the death of their older son, Bennet (Aaron Johnson), in a car crash. (A violent one to be honest) When a young woman, Rose, shows up a few months later, announcing that she is pregnant with Bennett’s child, the Brewers are forced to take her in. At first, Rose’s presence threatens to tear the family even further apart but, eventually, her interaction with each of them proves to be the very thing that unites them. However; that journey wasn’t one anyone can consider a stroll-down-strawberry-fields.

It was clear as soon as the film opens that there wasn’t going to be any bullshitting when enticing the audience’s attention-span with scenes that totally contradict one another. As high as it gets with the films opening which displays a semi-steamy scene between Bennett and Rose making love… to its downer… a much harsher loud scene afterwards when they’re in the car together, and BANG! Bennett is killed.

Bennett’s mother grieves day and night for her son, while his father’s attempting to detach himself from the loss in an effort to stay strong for his family. Ryan (Johnny Simmons) has lived in the shadow of his brother all of his life and now even after his brother’s death, he’s still taking a back seat to him. He turns to a teen grief support group where he meets Ashley (Zoe Kravits), 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, due to her mentally unstable mother, they agree to take her in. Her presence adds a new layer of grief as she 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 to the occasional flashback of Bennett through Rose’s memories. 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 puppy-love romance.

The Greatest has moments of levity that keeps the movie from becoming entirely TOO depressing, but for the most part, this is a film about what links loved ones and the dark-side of horrific downfalls. 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 downer and looking to to know the man she believes was the love of her life.

I’m generally reluctant to see films that seem to be sad for sadness’ sake, however; The Greatness really does successfully capture the heartbreaking which pertains to the loss of a son as a family tries to 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 uplifting and gut-wrenching, as we see how Bennett and Rose got together and how their relationship played out up until the final moments of this life.



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