Leaves of Grass (2009)

[Viennale started! Yay!]

Leaves of Grass is the newest film by Tim Blake Nelson, starring Edward Norton, Keri Russell, Melanie Lynskey, Richard Dreyfuss and Susan Sarandon.

Bill Kincaid (Edward Norton) is a successful philosophy professor who’s completely turned his back on his family in Oklahoma; his mother (Susan Sarandon) and his twin brother Brady (Edward Norton), a drug dealer. Brady has got himself into some financial troubles and calls Bill for help and home by telling him that he died. But that’s only the beginning of the mess they’re in.

Leaves of Grass has some very funny moments but the film has two major flaws: One, it tries too hard to be deep and meaningful and two, the film keeps getting away from the director.

I think the problem with this film was Tim Blake Nelson. As an actor, he was fine, but neither the writing nor the directing really worked. As a director, he didn’t really seem to have things under control, so the pacing dragged at times and the movie seemed a little unfocussed.

As a writer, he annoyed me with his endless harping about philosophy. He tried so hard to be meaningful that in the end I just wanted to slap him. Also, in the middle of the film there is a pretty drastic change in tone and suddenly we’re in the middle of a black and pretty bloody comedy. I actually enjoyed those bits, but they came a little out of nowhere.

There were some genuinely funny moments (especially the scenes with Richard Dreyfuss and Lucy DeVito). But mostly it just fell a little flat.

On the plus side, the cast was great. Edward Norton switching between accents was pretty impressive [also, I’d watch him reciting tax law, and be happy about it, so there’s that]. Susan Sarandon was underused. Keri Russel gave a good performance, but had a completely unnerving character.

And the soundtrack was really nice.

Summarising: Somebody tried to be the Coen Brothers and failed.


Dear Edward Norton,

when will you be in another good movie again? It’s probably Kingdom of Heaven that ruined your good movie vibe. But seriously, dude, it’s about time. Not that you weren’t fantastic in Leaves of Grass, but if even you in a double role can’t save a film, it’s really no good.

As I’ve offered Christian Bale, I might be available to choose your roles for you. Or you could finally get Motherless Brooklyn of the ground. That should be awesome.


2 thoughts on “Leaves of Grass (2009)

  1. Five years is a long time to have a ruined good movie vibe. Although I still maintain that it was never really Edward under that mask, someone just stuck him in the credits as a practical joke his publicists never bothered to correct…

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