Leaves Of Grass ***1/2

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Leaves Of Grass” is a bizarre blend of comedy, drama, and crime punctuated by amazing duel performances by Edward Norton.  Tim Blake Nelson, who you might of seen in a variety of supporting performances, has also had a quiet yet interesting directing career.  He has made some films that have flown under the radar such as “Eye Of God” and “The Grey Zone”. 

Here he paints an affectionate portrait of twin brothers who lead different lives but are equally intelligent.  The first brother is Bill, an Ivy league philosophy professor.  He is much beloved by his faculty and students.  Especially one student, who pretty much ambushes him in to almost sleeping with her.

His brother is Brady, who lives back home in Oklahoma, growing and selling marijuana.   When Brady gets in to dangerous trouble with a local drug lord, he lures his brother back home and devises what he thinks is an ingenious scheme.

What elevates this material is the remarkable performances by the cast.  Norton is so good at playing each brother.  He brings a distinct style to each character so that even if they didn’t have different haircuts and clothes we would still be able to differentiate them.  The character of Brady in particular is not your usual local boy.  He takes his profession very seriously, and is very articulate about his business ideas as well as his thoughts on god and philosophy.

The supporting cast starts with Tim Blake Nelson himself, playing Brady’s best friend, Kerri Russell as the woman who intrigues Bill in ways he has not experienced before, and Richard Dreyfuss in a gem of a performance as the local Jewish drug lord.

All of this sounds like the setup for a screw ball comedy, but Nelson brings more to the table then that.  His characters look and sound like they have grown up together.  I love the locations in which this movie was shot.  It looks and feels like a quiet place in which we all could enjoy a good BBQ. 

The last third of the movie is where my patients started to get tested as bodies started piling up.  This movie attempts to cross in to “Fargo” territory, but I felt like it all happened so fast.  Violence erupts like a rug being yanked out from under you.

 

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