Saturday, April 28, 2012

LEAVES OF GRASS - SHORT REVIEW

Leaves of Grass
September 14, 2009 (Toronto International Film Festival)
September 17, 2010 (United States)
105 min


Written and Directed by Tim Blake Nelson




See "Leaves of Grass" for the impressive sway of Mr. Edward Norton. There's plenty to like along the way in this fun and wild story, but the film's gimmick remains its best element.


Edward Norton gives one of the best performances of 2010 (and of his career) by playing two identical twins, both brilliant at what they two. Bill teaches Latin and Philosophy at Brown, though Harvard has their sights on him. Brady grows the finest natural marijuana in all of Oklahoma. When Brady gets in over his head with the wrong crowd, he has his best buddy Bolger (played by writer/director Tim Blake Nelson) inform his twin that he is dead. This is the only way Bill would return to their humble hometown because of a rocky past with his brother and mother (Susan Sarandon).


By far, the highlight of this film is seeing Norton play off Norton. Remember the impressive sequences in "The Social Network" where Armie Hammer plays both of Winklevi? (Did you know that was one actor?) The effect was seamless there. Here it draws a bit more attention to itself, perhaps intentionally so, but the effect is impressive and all-together hilarious. It it not the type of role (or film) that would be recognized by the Academy, but I feel he should have received Oscar consideration.


This is a successful black comedy (that dabbles into a very philosophical stoner comedy) with over-the-top scenarios and situations. Richard Dreyfuss shows up for five minutes to reek a bit of madness. My favorite side character is an orthodontist (Josh Pais) Bill meets aboard a plane en route to Tulsa. As I suspected, this could not be just a random encounter. Near the end it goes off the rails, but manages to find some closure in the film's namesake, a poetry collection by Walt Witman. The love story that stems from the jocular fertilizer is an easy second to the relationship of the two brothers. Like "Don McKay" from 2009, it almost feels Coen brother-esque, which is a fine compliment to pay.


★★★½


CONTENT: a scene of sensuality, strong language, and strong bloody violence



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