Susan Sarandon Help Line
Categories: 2009 Sundance Film Festival
Will someone please stop Susan Sarandon from playing grief-stricken mothers before this once-great actress becomes a one-trick caricature of her former self? Having fretted over a son feared missing in Desert Storm in Safe Passage, mourned the death of her son's fiancée in Moonlight Mile and most recently grieved for a son killed upon returning from Iraq in In the Valley of Elah, Sarandon makes it a four-peat with director Shana Feste's dubiously titled Sundance competition entry The Greatest, in which her 18-year-old son dies (by his own stupid fault) in a car crash and his surviving girlfriend (newcomer Carey Mulligan) subsequently announces that she's pregnant. Seemingly included by the festival only because of its shameless plagiarism of Sundance founder Robert Redford's Ordinary People, The Greatest is a mourning-family turkey with all the trimmings: a father (Pierce Brosnan) who can't bring himself to grieve; a mother who refuses to alter so much as one dust mite in the dead boy's room; a recovering-addict brother (Johnny Simmons) forever in the shadow of his golden-boy sibling; and an incessant love-songs-with-Delilah soundtrack meant to wring tears from even the stoniest of viewers. No movie at Sundance this year has depressed me more -- not because of the story it tells, but because of the creative bankruptcy it embodies.