Release Date
September 17, 2010
Tim Blake Nelson
Tim Blake Nelson
Distributed By
Millennium Pictures
$9 million
Comedy, Crime, Drama, Indie, Thriller
Rated R for violence, pervasive language, and drug content
105 minutes

Leaves Of Grass

If there is one actor who can carry two lead roles in the same film, Edward Norton is that actor. For the fans that frequent Fight Club, they are aware of Norton’s theatrical prowess and uncanny ability to remain interesting in multiple roles. Leaves Of Grass supplies Norton with an empty canvas to continue his illustrious career.

In an earlier review for Tenderness, I discussed the making of indie films and how, even though they appear to hold little weight in regards to an actor’s film career, they can potentially leave black marks on an actor’s credibility. Say, for instance, they fail to deliver in an indie film, the fact that they can not carry a small time film leaves their endeavors in larger titled films questionable. Russell Crowe proved he could not carry Tenderness, though his appearance in the film was limited. Edward Norton, on the other hand, faired extremely well in his indie venture, while gracing the screen throughout the entire film.

The dual roles played by Edward Norton are two twin brothers from opposite sides of the spectrum, supplying Norton with a bigger challenge. The first brother, Bill, escaped the small world of the country for a Philosophy teaching gig at an established school. Mere days away from being promoted to an Ivy league position, Bill gets the news that his redneck brother, Brady, has passed away. What Bill finds when he returns is his brother, alive and well, ready to be wed and waiting with a scheme to end his revolutionizing pot plant endeavor. As Bill meanders around his hometown, visiting his mother (Susan Sarandon) and meeting Brady’s friends, complete with Brady’s best friend Rick, played by the writer/director himself, Tim Blake Nelson, and an old friend and intellectual woman, Janet (Keri Russell), he not only learns his deeper connection to his pothead brother, but is reminded of what his life would have been had he never left.

The physicality of the one man in two roles shtick was handled effectively. No low budget effects here. When both brothers are in the same area talking to one another, there is no sign of tampering allowing for a smooth transition all through the film. The logistics of duality reveals itself slightly, especially when one of the brothers is constantly left on his own in the frame. With Brady having a beard and long hair, a viewer realizes that his scenes were all shot either sooner or later than the clean shaven scenes, allowing for even more admiration for the effects in the indie film.

With indie films popping up everyday, it takes a unique perspective to register and make an impact. Look at the successes of Little Miss Sunshine and Punch Drunk Love and recognize that, though they may not have the strength to significantly hurt careers, they can right as rain make them. Leaves of Grass proves that Edward Norton is not only a talented mainstream actor, but can carry a lower budget film. Though the ending is questionable, the majority of the film is still worth a viewing, especially for Edward Norton fans, or fans catching all the small roles that Susan Sarandon is frequenting these days. Complete with the stamp of approval from Roger Ebert, Leaves of Grass shows serious potential in the weeks leading up to its DVD release date. Not bad for a film named after a book of poetry by Walt Whitman. Not bad at all.



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