“Leaves of Grass”
On the positive side, “Leaves of
Grass” contains intelligent dialogue, though liberally sprinkled with
cursing. Edward Norton shows
great versatility in playing twin roles:
one twin is a
pot grower, and the other is a philosophy professor in
. Nice contrast.
But the problem is that watching him play both parts is distracting
for the required suspension of disbelief.
When a scene contains both of them together, you’re sitting there
thinking about how they did that. Especially
when one twin begins to display characteristics of the other, and even
imitating the other, we know we’re watching a performance, which may be
gifted acting, but we haven’t lost ourselves in the story.
The plot itself is fairly standard:
intelligent boy who happened to be raised in a poor family decides to
move away, and his return visits are infrequent because he feels he’s
grown past his upbringing. There
are a few wrinkles: something
untoward happens to the professor when a staff member walks in his office
just as he is resisting the very physical advances of a young female
student. This doesn’t look
good for him, even when he’s not at fault.
But when he does finally go see his twin brother back home, he
discovers that the guy who talks like a hick and is mixed up in the drug
business also has cleverly devised a quality homegrown greenhouse.
Of course, he’s using his smarts for illegal activities.
And his competition for the trafficking may not be as genteel as
he’d like. In the end, he’s
still dealing with a bunch of thugs and crooks.
There is a very endearing
conversation, though, between him and his best buddy, in the car, where his
buddy asks him if he believes in God. Our
drug dealer then explains how he envisions a set of parallel lines, like
train tracks, that in theory go on forever, it’s just that he can’t see
that part of it. He says it’s
the only way to try to make sense of the difference between what he sees,
and what he knows is there, but can’t see.
Another interesting little scene was
the rabbi talking about how the world is broken, and it’s our challenge to
try to repair it, each in our own way.
There’s some tongue-in-cheek humor
here (some country hicks try to make a simple killing look like a hate
crime, but get the swastika backwards).
There’s a hint of romance (Keri Russell quoting Walt Whitman?).
There’s a cameo by Susan Sarandon (playing the twin’s mother),
who’s always a pleasure to watch. But
while “Leaves of Grass” is a different style of film, which is welcome
in itself, it’s also a little convoluted and sometimes awkward and
somewhat pretentious. And
shouldn’t the rabbi have been preaching about Jacob and Esau instead of
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace