Indie Gems: The Greatest

Over-acting by the adult leads can't steal the heart of the story from the teen actors.

"The Greatest." That's how Rose (Carey Mulligan) describes her recent encounter with Bennett. (Aaron Johnson) Not too long after this Rose and Bennett are in an accident which ultimately claims his life. Rose finds out she is pregnant and wants to include Bennett's family in her baby's life. Parents Allen (Pierce Brosnan) and Grace (Susan Sarandon) are coping in different ways. Allen refuses to talk about it, Grace is dead set on speaking with Jordon (Michael Shannon) who was the last person to speak to her son while he was alive, before his own injuries put him into a coma. Bennett's younger but obviously older brother Ryan (Johnny Simmons) copes by getting high and attending a support group for people who have lost loved ones.

Rose is a curious girl and Mulligan plays her with elegance and heart. She's in a tough situation and tries to make the best of it. The flashback scenes of how Rose and Bennett met are my favorite. Their relationship is different, but interesting. My main problem with this film was how horribly out of place Sarandon and Brosnan felt. The tone was solemn, but they went over the top so much that I wish more of the film was dedicated to the beginning of Rose and Bennett's relationship. Side stories involving Ryan and a girl he meets in his counseling and Jordon's eventual confession of what really happened the night of the accident are far more interesting but take a back seat to Allen and Grace's feelings. It's not that it wasn't believable, that's exactly how I would expect parents to act after losing a child. It just felt really forced compared to the rest of the film.

Still, it's a beautiful little film with a score that fits. Mulligan and Johnson put on great American accents and show real chemistry in their scenes together. The film is worth watching just for them.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "That wasn't fair, Ryan. I like you." - Rose (Carey Mulligan)


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