Courtesy of Paladin
Lisa Schwarzbaum
April 07, 2010 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Greatest

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
Limited Release Date
04/02/10
performer
Pierce Brosnan, Carey Mulligan, Susan Sarandon, Aaron Johnson, Zoe Kravitz
genre
Drama

We gave it a C

The tear-swollen domestic tragedy The Greatest kicks directly into emotional high gear with an opening scene of tentative teenage sex between a solicitous boy (Aaron Johnson) and an effervescent girl (An Education‘s Carey Mulligan), followed by the sickening thud of a car collision. But keep your seat belt buckled, because first-time writer-director Shana Feste is just getting started. Mourning the boy’s car-crash death, perpetually sobbing mom (Susan Sarandon, an old hand at the assignment), stoic dad (Pierce Brosnan), and alienated younger brother (Johnny Simmons) are jolted into a whole new level of melodrama by the doorstep arrival of the girl, Rose, now healed fom her injuries and, it turns out, pregnant with the child of their dead boy.

At least Feste acknowledges the influence of Robert Redford’s more controlled (and thus far more devastating) 1980 grieving-family classic Ordinary People on her own overloaded, hyperventilating version. In fact, she relies on esteemed cinematographer John Bailey, who shot Redford’s Oscar-winning original. As a result, although The Greatest is a histrionic mess, at least it looks clean. C

See all of this week’s reviews

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