Friday, April 9, 2010


The Greatest

The Greatest Can you imagine how James Bond looks like when he mourns? Certainly it is not pretty judging from how Pierce Brosnan cries in a sappy melodrama "The Greatest" (USA 2009 | 99 min.) about grieving and healing.

While Allen Brewer (Pierce Brosnan) and Grace (Susan Sarandon) cope with the tragic death of their well-liked (hence the title "The Greatest") son Bennett (Aaron Johnson), Bennett's girlfriend Rose (Carey Mulligan) shows up at their door steps, and she is pregnant. Grace blames on Grace for Bennett's death and resents her; Allen tries to hold the family together; and Bennett's brother Ryan (Johnny Simmons) escapes the reality by getting high with drugs. Would anybody doubt that this unhappy bunch will eventually come out of the grief and live happily ever after? That is the formula like every chicken dumpling soup.

This film tries hard to move the audience with a sentimental subject matter and mostly unconvincing performance. Unfortunately, the film only triggers a few chuckles in the audience by its absurdity, instead of invoking any sympathetic feelings toward these characters.

I am detached from these awkwardly written characters as if I am watching a daytime soap opera. Seeing Pierce Brosnan on the screen, I wonder what his next James Bond assignment might be. His sadness is insincere, and certainly laughable. On the other hand, Susan Sarandon does look sad, but I am not sure whether it is due to her character Grace's loss, or it is due to her recent breakup with Tim Robbins. The only credible moment that actually moves me is when Ryan finally speaks out about his brother, in which Johnny Simmons gives a brilliant and memorable performance.

Aaron Johnson and Carey Mulligan in The Greatest

The plot is also confusing from time to time. For instance, it is unclear why Grace keeps going back to a hospital to read a book to a person in coma. Then that bedridden guy is suddenly taken to a jail, wakes up, and talks articulately as if he were a video camera when describing Bennett's last moment. Apparently, his words are very crucial for the family to heal and to be able to love again.

Everybody should drive safely, so the film's cruel opening will not repeat. Perhaps we can all be spared from going through a nagging healing process like the Brewer family in this film.

"The Greatest" opens on Friday, April 9, 2010 at Bay Area theaters.

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