Teenagers Rose and Bennett were in love, and then a car crash claimed Bennett's life. He left behind a grieving mother, father and younger brother, and Rose was left all alone. She has no family to turn to for support, so when she finds out she's pregnant, she winds up at the Brewer's door. She needs their help, and although they can't quite admit it, they each need her so they can begin to heal.Written by
Susan Sarandon was initially reluctant to tackle the role of the grieving mother in the film, as she's played similar parts in recent years, most notably in Moonlight Mile (2002) and In the Valley of Elah (2007). She was impressed with Writer and Director Shana Feste's eccentric script, and the fact that the film would shoot close to her New York City area house on a quick twenty-eight-day schedule was also appealing. Still, it took a phone call from Pierce Brosnan (who had just signed on to co-star) to finally convince her to commit to the film. See more »
The scene of the accident is described in dialogue (particularly by Grace Brewer) as having surveillance cameras which recorded the crash and its aftermath, and Jordan Walker, the driver who smashed into Bennett and Rose, claims that he "had a green light", clearly referring to an intersection. Yet when the Brewer family and Rose visit the crash site, it is on a narrow country road in a wooded area, with no intersections, traffic lights or cameras in sight. See more »
All right, I have a secret to tell you.
You're in the middle of the road.
I know. Do you wanna hear it?
Do you want to move your car first?
No, not really. I just wanna tell you one more thing.
[takes a Polaroid picture of him]
What? That's not gonna be good.
Okay, tell me.
[...] See more »
Anyone that has ever lost a child has plumbed the depths of grief. And while numerous movies have tried to depict that paralyzing depression, most fall well short of the mark. (I recall In the Bedroom from Sundance 2001, starring Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson and Marissa Tomeiit was good, but couldn't fully expose the raw nerve laid bare with the passing of a child.)
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 deatha 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 Robbinsson 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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