27 October 2010 | PopcornJury
The Performance Lives Up to the Film, but the Film Doesn't Live Up to the Performance
There's some movies that deserve better performances. The script is there, but the casting is wrong, and the film suffers because of it. "Leaves of Grass" suffers the opposite problem. Edward Norton delivers one of the best performances of his career (which says a lot), but the film doesn't deliver on the same level of his performance leading to a less than mediocre movie that would be hard to recommend regardless of how good that acting really is.
Leaves of Grass is a pretty simple stoner film. It's about two identical twin brothers (both played by Norton) who live completely different lives. One decided to study classics and teach out of Brown University. The other decided to study marijuana and build his empire in the heart of Oklahoma. When the marijuana business goes south, the cultured classics professor is forced to head the the small town swamps to help his brother. What ensues is both equally interesting and entertaining, but quite frankly doesn't deliver on the comedy that the premise is clearly built upon.
Edward Norton really steals the show here. Personally he's been one of my favorite actors ever since American History X, and films like 25th Hour have done nothing but increase my appreciation. Here he plays a straight laced cultured character and a hillbilly hick town drug lord and he plays them both extremely well. Couple this with the fact that the characters appear on screen together fighting, consoling, shooting, and conversing, and you can't help but be amazed at the range one man could show in a single movie.
Despite the performance and the interesting intertwining story of brother helping brother, I still don't think I can recommend this film. It delivers some heartfelt moments, ends on sweet spot, and entertains on somewhat of an emotional level (lot of talk about god, our existence, good vs. bad, and the importance of family) but has such an inconsistent tone that tries to do too many things at once (comedy, action, inspiration, and emotion).
A lot of critics claimed this to be a hidden gem, one of the year's best. I for one wouldn't 100% agree. It's a small-budget film that tries to have a big heart. For me, it just didn't quite get there.
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Michael Buffa- Editor, Popcorn Jury