Edward Norton does the identical twin routine in Tim Blake Nelson’s comedy about a pair of brothers whose divergent lives reconnect when news of the death of one draws the other back home.

One brother is a pot growing entrepreneur with a crippling lack of smarts and a talent for trouble while the other brother is an Ivy League professor on the verge of a huge promotion and keen to maintain the distance he has travelled from his humble beginnings.

When the learned sibling realises that reports of his brother’s death are not only greatly exaggerated, but are part of a plot to take down a domineering local crime boss, the Slackerdemic double act get to work at rebuilding bridges and sorting their lives out. Which is nowhere near as trite as it sounds. It’s a keenly felt, visually interesting and surprisingly nuanced comedy.

Edward Norton takes on the roles of both brothers while aplomb, though his pot grower from the sticks is at first a little too cornball, but as the film progresses we find both to be layered performances, capable of engaging our emotions and elevating the film. Norton has a habit of allowing the other characters to develop around him, almost fading to the background but this is why he is so magnetic a screen presence.

It’s a fairly standard premise elevated by a great supporting cast with Susan Sarandon’s role as the twins’ mother is soaked in pathos and gin and Richard Dreyfuss’s duplicitous drug baron Pug Rothbaum (a Coenesque name if ever there was one) is a coarse and chilling presence. It’s always great to see Melanie Lynskey on screen and Blake Nelson is virtually unrecognisable in his supporting role and you get the feeling that this film was made as a passion project rather than an attempt to attract a wide audience. Its cast is its greatest asset and its witty script will surprise those expecting a pothead crime caper – it is far deeper, and far more enjoyable than that.

Leaves of Grass is out now on DVD and VOD.