The Greatest

   It’s often been said that the loss of a child is the most unbearable pain a human being can endure, perhaps that’s why there are so many films made about the subject. Often times actors are drawn back into the original reason they wanted to act in the first place, and that’s because of character driven dramatic performances for those who are real actors. Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan (An Education) has quickly become the most talented in demand young actress of a new generation of female actresses. She is as artistically beautiful as she is talented and has quite a knack for picking roles so far that challenge and work to her strengths. The Greatest is a beautiful small dramatic piece that has everything to do with acting and honest real time emotion.

   On a dark highway, in the middle of the road, 17 year old Bennett (Johnson) stopped to tell his girlfriend Rose (Mulligan) how much he loved her, but before he could finish that sentence their world was changed by a truck that didn’t see them. Grace (Sarandon) wakes up every morning only to realize that her older son; the great love of her life is gone. Bennett’s father Allen (Brosnan) is holding the family together and when their son’s girlfriend, finally comes to their door they have mixed feelings about the news of her pregnancy. “You don’t give a puppy to someone who just lost their dog” Grace shouts to her husband at the disapproval of taking the girl into their home.

   The death of a child, only to discover another part of their life by their significant other isn’t an unfamiliar concept in cinema; it isn’t even an unfamiliar character for Sarandon who starred in a very similar themed film called Moonlight Mile. Academy Award winner Sarandon (Dead Man Walking) makes tons of films, always playing some type of angered mother figure in a supporting role, her performances in the last five years are so similar it’s difficult to distinguish between them. Brosnan has really found a new career after James Bond, and I am continually impressed at his diversity in roles from Mamma Mia to Remember Me, but this has got to be one of his most emotionally enduring performances. Mulligan is the hot ticket here and these performances together work very well, laced with scenes from the past featuring Nowhere Boy’s breakout Aaron Johnson, the casting is perfect.

   The Greatest does an excellent job exploring territory we haven’t necessarily seen in a familiar film before. Perhaps the most difficult and emotional scene of the film is when Grace confronts the driver (played by Oscar nominee Michael Shannon) who caused her son’s death after he wakes from a coma, as she begs to hear details from her son’s last moments, Shannon is so vivid we don’t need visuals to understand what a horrible scene it was, and watching Sarandon be affected by what she is hearing separates this performance from the sea of other tragedy stricken mother roles she has done. This script sticks to what works and never downplays the feelings of these hurt characters and the importance of the one life that touched them all. It’s a beautiful story about love in its many different forms, it’s a parental must.

   Final Thought – Beautiful, moving and beautifully acted.

Grade B+

By: Dustin Chase W.       Editor: Jennifer Gih