The Greatest

2 out of 5 stars
The Greatest

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

There are films that examine the healing process following a loved one’s death with poignancy, profundity and insight about the human condition. And then there’s straight-up grief-porn like Shana Feste’s shameless sucker-punch of a drama, which romps all over the emotional messiness of mourning like a frenetic feline on a catnip-covered floor. After the film’s martyr—Aaron Johnson’s jockish, jocular Bennett—perishes in a car accident before the opening credits, the movie lays out how each of the teen’s family members process their loss. Mom (Sarandon) breaks down into a hyperactive, hysterical bundle of nerves; Dad (Brosnan) shuts down entirely; and the younger brother (Simmons), a former substance abuser, simply stares numbly off into space.

That all of this is communicated in a single, static, five-minute shot suggests we’re in for a story told with restraint and grace. And then the screaming—and crying, and oh-the-humanity Oscar baiting—starts in earnest. Once Bennett’s girlfriend (An Education’s Mulligan) shows up announcing she’s pregnant, all sense of decorum is lost and everybody goes into full-blown posttraumatic pantomime acts. Given that Sarandon played this same role so sublimely before in Moonlight Mile, her devolution into theatrical rending of garments and gnashing of teeth is particularly disappointing, but no one—not Brosnan’s shell-shocked--by-numbers patriarch nor Mulligan’s wide-eyed waif—comes out of this steroidal pity party unscathed.—David Fear

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