Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Bennett (Aaron Johnson) is a lucky boy and Rose (Casey Mulligan) is a lucky girl. These kids have been in love with each other through four years of high school without either speaking a word to each other until on the last day of school when Bennett gets up the courage. These two crazy kids have been saving themselves for each other for a particular moment in time and when this moment comes they take full advantage of it. Now we all know in this movie ĎThe Greatestí that Bennett has to die. Itís what the movie is about. I simply wasnít ready for the way that Bennett died. I dig that Bennett has just consummated his relationship with the girl of his dreams, I get that heís happyÖ I would be too. But maybe because Iím not a hopeless romantic, I can honestly say that Iím not going to stop my Karmann Ghia in the middle of the street on a dark road to profess my love. Iíve waited four years so I can wait until I get to the diner. Or more accurately, this love wouldíve been professed immediately after the consummation which is usually how that works anyway. Thatís just me. Besides, Rose already knows this. Anyway, Bennettís stupid ass is dead and now this movie can get started.

Bennett has left behind a mother in Grace (Susan Sarandon) who is grief stricken beyond belief, a father in Allen (Pierce Brosnan) who refuses to speak of his dead child and even refuses to sleep to avoid even dreaming about the boy, and a younger brother Ryan (Johnny Simmons) who seems cool about his brother being dead. In fact it is told to us that Ryan has a drug problem, but after Bennett kicks it we hardly saw Ryan take any drugs. Bennett has also left behind a pregnant girlfriend, even though they only did this thing that one time. You see Rose has nowhere to go. Her unseen mother is nuts and doesnít even know sheís pregnant so she moves in with the Brewerís. Grace isnít happy about this but Alan thinks itís a fabulous idea.

Over the course of the next hour or so we spend some quality time with the dysfunctional Brewerís while they go through the motions. Grace needs professional

help, though itís never addressed in this movie, but she does. Desperately. Grace is doing everything in her power to keep her dead son alive which also includes making Roseís life a living nightmare. Alan probably needs professional help as well though it would appear that Alan needed this before his son died foolishly on that dark stretch of road. Alan is keeping his dead son alive through Rose which is helping him to avoid dealing with it. The one who doesnít seem to need the help is Ryan but he is nonetheless going to one of those 'Teens Dealing with Loss' groups where he will meet a pretty girl and because of this particular loony chick will soon probably be in the most critical need of help. Will this family survive this tragedy? It will take all of the power, and killer dimples of a ninety pound cutie pie to make this happen. Iím liking her chances to pull this off.

I have to admit I didnít care for ĎThe Greatestí too much. I personally thought the melodrama was rigged for effect and didnít actually flow naturally within the narrative, laying some of the blame for this on a script that sets up events like a series of road signs that you just have to follow. Turn left at shock, stop at empathy, make a u-turn at pity and drive straight until you reach acceptance. Very little in this movie felt natural or authentic which is kind of important in a film that relies a lot on us having some empathy and feelings for the characters, and unfortunately I was not feeling too much for these people and their grief. Ms. Sarandonís character of Grace was almost hateful in addition to being grossly irrational which made me personally feel uncomfortable because this woman has just lost her child, and while I have no idea how one is supposed to react in that event and pray I never have know this knowledge, I felt no empathy at all for her character. I did feel a little more for Pierce Brosnanís character if for no other reason than his characters behavior seemed a little more authentic, but yet my heart didnít go out for the character. I actually liked Johnny Simmons performance the most in this movie since his character seemed to be dealing with the tragedy in a way that was most effective, at least cinematically speaking, but that was a strange little plot point the filmmakers inserted in there involving him and this girl he would meet. I get that he had to get to a particular point and that something needed to be done to bring this emotion out of him but the way this was brought about it seemed like we needed to spend some more quality time with this girl to learn about her because she automatically became one of the more interesting characters in this movie.

Now even though I didnít care for this movie I still think that ĎThe Greatestí is a film of some note nonetheless. I admire young director Shana Feste and her drive and determination in getting her film made and hopefully becoming a fresh voice in cinema for years to come. I admire Pierce Brosnan for having enough faith in this project by signing off as executive producer which no doubt helped in getting the project made and I truly do appreciate the effort that went in to making this film, I just wasnít all that crazy about the final product. But thatís just one manís opinion.

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