The Greatest (review)

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A teenage boy is killed in a terrible accident, just as he’s about to graduate high school and start living his own life. And in the wake of his death comes a girlfriend his family didn’t know existed… indeed, a girlfriend he was only just getting to know. And she’s pregnant. And she has nowhere else to go. First-time writer-director Shana Feste has made a wise, insightful movie about family, grief, and how awful and how wonderful it is to discover that life goes on after someone you love dies. An Education’s Carey Mulligan as pregnant Rose absolutely steals the film, with her sweet-faced, cerebral presence, and that’s quite something: her costars are Susan Sarandon (Solitary Man), as Grace, the mother of her dead lover, Bennett (Kick-Ass’s Aaron Johnson, in flashbacks), and the grandmother of her child, and Pierce Brosnan (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) as Grace’s husband, Allen; both Sarandon and Brosnan are at their powerful best, as Mom lets too much out, becoming a vortex of anguish sucking life from all around her, while Dad keeps too much in, as he attempts to keep the family from falling completely to pieces. (Johnny Simmons [Hotel for Dogs] as Bennett’s younger brother, Ryan, shines, too, particularly in one scene in which he finally acknowledges his own pain.) Hopeful and heartbreaking, this lovely film offers a rush of genuine cinematic emotion that is rare… and most welcome.

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