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The Greatest Review

By David Kempler

Cry Me a River

If this initial outing by Shana Feste is any indication, she may be destined for a career as one of the greats at making the audience cry. "The Greatest" is an updated variation on "Ordinary People". A well-to-do family is dealing with the death of their son, although this time it's a car accident instead of a suicide.

Substituting for Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Timothy Hutton, and Judd Hirsch, in order, are Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon, Johnny Simmons, and Carey Mulligan. While Carey doesn't play a shrink, like Judd, she is nevertheless the grounded one that can solve everyone's problems.

In the very first scene, we see Bennett Brewer (Aaron Johnson) and Rose (Carey Mulligan) in a hot sex scene. Soon afterwards, Bennett drives Rose home but for some inexplicable reason stops the car in the middle of the road, in the middle of the night, to tell Rose that he loves her. What we are supposed to find sweet is really a great case of Darwinism at work, as a truck barrels into the rear of the car, killing Bennett, but leaving Rose virtually unscathed. Stupidity of the highest order as inciting event makes everything that follows a bit of a tough sell.

Shortly after the funeral, Rose turns up at his parent's house and announces she is pregnant with Bennett's child. They invite her to live there. No DNA testing needed. Bennett's parents, Allen Brewer (Pierce Brosnan) and his wife Grace (Susan Sarandon) are not united in the decision. Allen wants her there while Grace doesn't. Bennett's brother, Ryan (Johnny Simmons) doesn't care. He is too bombed on pills to care about anything.

Grace is obsessed with learning what Bennett's final moments were like and she tracks down the driver of the truck that killed her son. Unfortunately he is in coma, and not very talkative. The unconscious driver is played by Michael Shannon.

Ms. Feste is great at manipulating the audience, twisting our heartstrings so often that you might have to bring an entire jumbo box of tissues to survive the ordeal. If you like soap opera, you may love this. If you don't, you won't think this the greatest.

What did you think?

Movie title The Greatest
Release year 2009
MPAA Rating R
Our rating
Summary In this variation on "Ordinary People", a well-to-do family is dealing with the death of their son and director Shana Feste is determined to make us cry about it more than we have ever cried before.
View all articles by David Kempler
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