Thursday, January 22, 2009
Sundance: The Greatest
Monday night my usual Sundance date had to work the night shift, and so I went to see The Greatest with my good friend, Erika.
I loved this film. I will go so far as to say I think it is now one of my favorite movies I've ever seen. Seriously. It is that good. I think I'd rank it up there with Secrets and Lies for me, with a similar universal and sometimes painful human insight and range of emotion, not to mention fantastic execution.
The writing is phenomenal. The actors are all pitch-perfect. The cinematography, the pacing, the direction, everything just works. And the story...the story is so good, so real. I found it almost haunting. I literally woke up thinking about it in detail the next morning, and it made me cry all over again. But the emotion isn't maudlin - it feels very authentic, and I think that's why it stuck with me so much.
The story is about the death of an eighten-year-old boy, and the ways in which his family and the girl who was with him when he died deal with the aftermath of that death. In a balanced way, it follows each of them in their grief, and the ways they deal with that grief, with one another, and with the other problems and tensions that existed in their lives which are overshadowed but not erased, and which must be dealt with too.
This is the first film for writer/director Shana Feste, and that's amazing to me - she seems so talented, to have sprung into film so fully formed like this. She was there with her producer, Lynette Howell, for Q&A afterward, and I was immediately struck by their relative youth when they walked on stage - which was inspiring and cool. It was a balloted film, part of the U.S. Dramatic Competition, and the first balloted film this festival that I've given 4 out of 4 stars, which I did without hesitation. I just really loved this film - I hope they sell it and make a lot of money and it really launches their filmmaking careers so they can make more great films like this. And when it comes to a theater near you, you should see it.