Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Greatest

This is an old-fashioned family drama, shot in a classical way, which would make one think first of Hollywood, but The Greatest is actually a low-budget indie film written and directed by first-timer Shana Feste. And it does feel like an indie film, for the most part.

The Greatest begins with the death of an eighteen-year-old boy (car crash) and then follows the grieving process of his parents, his younger brother and the girl he has just made love to (both were virgins at the time).

The critics weren’t impressed with The Greatest so I must confess that I almost certainly wouldn’t have watched it if it hadn’t been Carey Mulligan’s second film (filmed just after An Education). You’ve read my raves about this amazing young actress and she did not disappoint as Rose, the girl who finds herself pregnant and moves in with the grieving family. For that matter, all the acting was impressive. Susan Sarandon (always good) is flawless as the grieving mother and Pierce Brosnan gives one of his best performances as the father. Johnny Simmons as the brother also does well.

The cinematography is excellent and, while there’s not much music, what there is worked well. For a rookie, the writing and directing aren’t that bad either (the central theme of grieving is done well and feels real to me). But I did say “for a rookie”. There is at least one major hole in the plot, involving the mysterious background of Rose, some rather weakly written scenes, a general lack of originality throughout and and an ending that would certainly not impress the critics. I’m not a big fan of the ending either, but The Greatest was written and directed by a young woman and I think it’s clear she needed the film to end that way, so I can live with that. Personally, I’m thrilled that more and more women are making films.

While The Greatest may not have been the greatest, I was not at all disappointed that I watched it and give it ***. My mug is up.

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