LEAVES OF GRASS

BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
AUGUST 21, 2010

If one actor can carry two lead roles in the same film, Edward Norton is that actor. The fans that frequent “Fight Club” are aware of Norton’s theatrical prowess and uncanny ability to remain captivating 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. For instance, they fail to deliver in an indie film; they can not carry a small-time film leaving their endeavors in larger titled movies questionable. Russell Crowe proved he could not shoulder “Tenderness,” though his appearance in the film was limited. On the other hand, Edward Norton faired exceptionally well in his indie venture while gracing the screen throughout the film.

The dual roles played by Edward Norton are two twin brothers from opposite sides of the spectrum, supplying Norton with a more significant challenge. The first brother, Bill, escaped the country’s small world 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. When he returns, Bill finds his brother, alive and well, ready to be wed and waiting with a scheme to end his revolutionizing pot plant endeavor. Bill meanders around his hometown, visiting his mother (Susan Sarandon) and meeting Brady’s friend, Rick, played by the writer/director, Tim Blake Nelson, and an old friend, Janet (Keri Russell). He not only learns his more profound connection to his pothead brother, but it reminds him of what his life would have been having he never left.

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, mostly when one of the brothers is 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 settings, allowing for even more admiration for the indie film’s effects.

With indie films popping up every day, it takes a unique perspective to register and make an impact. Look at the success of “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Punch Drunk Love” and recognize that, though they may not have the strength to hurt careers significantly, they can right as rain makes them. “Leaves of Grass” proves that Edward Norton is a talented mainstream actor and can carry a lower budget film. Though the ending is questionable, most 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.

RELEASE DATE
September 17, 2010

DIRECTOR
Tim Blake Nelson

WRITTEN BY
Tim Blake Nelson

STUDIO
Millennium Films

R
(for violence, pervasive language, and drug content)

COMEDY
CRIME

DRAMA
THRILLER

105 minutes

CINEMATOGRAPHER
Roberto Schaefer

COMPOSER
Jeff Danna

EDITOR
Michelle Botticelli

CAST
Edward Norton
Keri Russell
Tim Blake Nelson
Richard Dreyfuss
Susan Sarandon
Pruitt Taylor Vince
Melanie Lynskey
Ty Burrell

PRODUCED BY
John Langley
Elie Cohn
Kristina Dubin
William Migliore
Tim Blake Nelson
Edward Norton

BUDGET
$9 million

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