In “Leaves of Grass,” Walt Whitman transformed his life into a poetic portrait of America and all its vastness, diversity, and tension. More than 150 years later, writer-director Tim Blake Nelson does something similar in his “Leaves of Grass,” a film that draws on his native Oklahoma, his college days at Brown, and his Jewish heritage.
The story centers on identical twins, both played by Edward Norton. Billy is an Ivy League philosophy professor. His brother Brady is a marijuana dealer who grows his leaves of grass hydroponically with the help of his sidekick, played by Nelson. When Billy reunites with his estranged family in Oklahoma, he finds a netherworld of drugs and violence that forces him to question his ethics and values. With requisite scenes of identity swapping, the twins’ reunion soon devolves into tragedy.
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