13 August 2010 | lewiskendell
Spotty characterization undermines what could have been a great movie.
"I want to know everything I would know if he was still alive. I want more memories of him."
After their teenage son Bennett (Aaron Johnson) dies in an accident, Allen and Grace (Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon) are left unable pick up the pieces and move on after his death. But when the young woman (Carey Mulligan) who's carrying Bennett's unborn baby arrives at their doorstep with nowhere else to go, the tension and pain of Bennett's death is brought forward in a way that will either destroy the family, or finally push them towards dealing with their grief. Scenes of Rose and Bennett's relationship before his death are also woven throughout the movie, and provide a nice way to better know the two characters.
The Greatest started off pretty well. The scenario of a family struggling with the loss of a child isn't an uncommon one, but the cast seemed well on their way to delivering a solid story about loss and healing. Mulligan was excellent, and Brosnan and Sarandon were solid, even though they occasionally didn't quite deliver the emotion that they were reaching for in a few scenes. No, my problem with The Greatest wasn't the actors or the premise, it was the writing.
The story takes the oddest detours at times, often with little relevance to, well...the actual story. This really seemed apparent with the character of Ryan, whose entire subplot with the girl he meets has little relevance on his character arc, and made his resolution feel artificial, as a result. And Rose and Allen's trip to a teenage party seemed completely out of place, and I was left wondering what it was supposed to add to the story. The characters also didn't appear to have a truly solid identity, and as a result, some of their decisions and interactions didn't come off as genuine. It's like writer and director Shana Feste had ideas about what she wanted to see happen in the movie, but didn't bother to build those ideas around relatable and believable characters. A movie like this depends on making a connection between the audience and the characters, and at times, that connection felt very hollow, for me.
The Greatest is an okay movie, but I'm convinced that it could have been much better with a script written by someone with a better grasp on creating solid characters.