The Greatest (2010)



Critic Consensus: It's burdened by a predictable, overly melodramatic story, but The Greatest benefits from strong performances by its talented cast.

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Tragedy opens the wounds a family has long struggled to ignore in this powerful emotional drama. Bennett Brewer (Aaron Johnson) was a bright, handsome, and talented young man who was suddenly killed in an auto accident late one night while driving home with Rose (Carey Mulligan), a girl who had been a close friend for years but had only recently become romantically involved with him. Bennett's death devastates his family: his mother, Grace (Susan Sarandon), is overcome with grief and can't stop wondering what his final minutes must have been like; father Allen (Pierce Brosnan) is forced to turn away from his mistress (Jennifer Ehle) and try to comfort a woman he's no longer certain he loves; and brother Ryan (Johnny Simmons) mourns Bennett while becoming painfully aware that he will never live up to his late brother's example in the eyes of his parents. As grief slowly brings the family's emotional troubles to the surface, two unwelcome characters come into the picture -- Rose, who has discovered she's pregnant with Bennett's child, and the truck driver (Michael Shannon) who unwittingly took Bennett's life. The first feature film from writer and director Shana Feste, The Greatest received its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.
R (for language, some sexual content and drug use)
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Pierce Brosnan
as Allen Brewer
Susan Sarandon
as Grace Brewer
Johnny Simmons
as Ryan Brewer
Aaron Taylor-Johnson
as Bennett Brewer
Amy Morton
as Lydia
Michael Shannon
as Jordan Walker
Kevin Hagan
as Priest
Zoë Kravitz
as Ashley
Ramsey Faragallah
as Dr. Shamban
Colby Minifie
as Latent
as Toni
Dante Clark
as Dante
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Greatest

All Critics (57) | Top Critics (27)

The real surprise is Brosnan's silent, agonized performance; his post-007 career has been one long campaign to prove he's got the goods.

Full Review… | January 3, 2011
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Overwrought in all the wrong ways, The Greatest doesn't do its normally excellent cast any favors.

Full Review… | April 16, 2010
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic

A meditation on loss by a writer-director whose honesty, sensitivity and intelligence more than mitigate the film's histrionic qualities.

Full Review… | April 15, 2010
Washington Post
Top Critic

Sarandon and Brosnan are very good, indeed, Brosnan surprisingly so. In fact, Brosnan has never been so opened up, so emotional and yet so precise in his work. It's a lovely performance in a film that only sometimes deserves him.

Full Review… | April 8, 2010
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Though it sometimes feels more like a collection of scenes than a complete story, some moments are so raw and insightful that they feel like a punch to the heart.

Full Review… | April 8, 2010
USA Today
Top Critic

What makes The Greatest work so well is that Feste clearly remembers what it's like to be 18 and to believe your one chance at joy has passed you by.

April 8, 2010
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Greatest


The plot is quite sad and depressing but it was hard for me to feel anything at all and not remain cold, which is certainly a fault of all those melodramatic performances from most of the cast, the film's endless clichés and how predictable everything really is.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


This drama film is about grief and the different ways it can affect people, it was very good. I believe this is a depressing tale that forlornly tries to uplift during its final moments, but never escapes the shackles of its distressing storyline. The performances, including Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon, Carey Mulligan, are universally wonderful, but the relentless dour tone makes The Greatest an easy film to admire, but a hard one to truly enjoy.

Dean McKenna
Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

This was an over-dramatic, over-emotional and an overdone movie in almost all respects. The grieving of the parents for their dead son left no emotional impact, and so was the case with the dead guy's pregnant girlfriend and his brother. However, the execution was such that it almost brought me on the brink of weeping. I'd also like to clarify that I came on the verge of weeping due to the sheer boredom and not due to the effect generated by any of the scenes. The characters were so lame that it left no scope for good performance, so I can't comment on anyone's performance here.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

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