Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Greatest :: Mini-review

The Greatest

On Saturday mornings I like to make a pot of coffee and watch a movie, this past Saturday the movie was The Greatest. I've wanted to see this film since I first watched the trailer, and mainly due to both my long-standing love of Susan Sarandon, and my newfound love of Carey Mulligan.

The film is about the loss of a son. It is a film about young love that was just starting to blossom, and was taken away. The film is about family and marriage and parenthood. The film is about grief, about letting go, about forgiveness, and about life.

I knew the story would be sad, and I've seen films that have dealt with death and grief before, so I steadied myself for what was to come. The start of this film brings you in slowly, intimately, and then hits you as hard as the car accident that takes the life of Bennett, and leaves a very broken aftermath within his family, and the young girl he had just (finally) began to date.

There is a scene in the beginning of Bennett's family - Mother, Father and Brother - sat in the back of a limo, driving away from the graveside service, that is one of the most uncomfortable, moving and intimate scenes I've seen in a very long time. There is not conversation, it is nearly silent except for the movie's score playing, and it feels like it goes on for a very long time. We watch the family's reaction, especially the Father's (played wonderfully by Pierce Brosnan, who as an actor is winning me over, unexpectedly, lately), as they pull away - small reactions, expressions, so painful that you almost want to turn away. This is a powerful way to begin a film.

Carey Mulligan is fantastic in this. I've yet to see her in a role that I have not completely loved, and I look forward to what she does next in her career. The levels and shades and differences of grief, and how it looks, and how people deal with death, is developed so wonderfully in this film. Small shards of pain surfacing in each family member, the reverberation it has on the others, and the very personal, and intimate (again I use this word - the whole film felt so deeply intimate) nature of how we deal with the one thing none of us want to deal with.

My favorite scene is near the end when the family is rushing Rose, who is about to give birth to Bennnett's daughter, to the hospital and are all trying to tell Rose stories of who Bennett was. The choices they make in what they tell, the way the stories overlap each other's, and the healing that takes place in that one scene is breathtaking.

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