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Sundance Film Festival 2009: Susan Sarandon Help Line

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.

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