Title – Grace is Gone (2007)
Director – James C. Strouse (People Places Things)
Cast – John Cusack, Shelan O’Keefe, Gracie Bednarczyk, Alessandro Nivola
Plot – Loving father Stanley Phillips (Cusack) can’t bring himself to let his two young daughters Heidi (O’Keefe) and Dawn (Bednarczyk) know that their mother Grace has been killed in action while serving in the Iraq war. For lack of a better option, Stanley and the girls take off on an impromptu road trip that allows them all to bond together while Stanley himself comes to terms with losing the love of his life.
“You just have to be open to allowing for a truth which differs from your own opinions”
Review by Eddie on 24/02/2016
A poignant and heartfelt drama that uses the backdrop of the Iraq war to tell an affecting story of love, loss and family, Grace is Gone is a highly recommendable film that was underseen upon release in 2007 and is worthy of your time to this day.
Featuring one of John Cusack’s most effective and nuanced performances, James C. Strouse’s debut film is small in scale yet big on heart and harbors a beating heart that’ll make viewer’s laugh and shed a tear in equal measure.
Strouse finds a great tone in the often tricky balance of humour and drama in this film and it’s a shame in the meantime since Grace is Gone’s muted reception in 2007 that his only developed the little seen The Winning Season and the nice if a little lacking Jemaine Clement star vehicle People Places Things, a film that played well in the festival season last year.
Strouse shows a real feel for characters in Grace is Gone and Cusack’s Stanley Phillips as well as his two daughters as played by then youngsters Shelan O’Keefe and Gracie Bednarczyk are a family unit we quickly develop feelings towards and their cross country road trip that is acting as an intermediary between Stanley letting his children know about their mother’s passing as a servicewomen in Iraq is a lovingly structured one.
Front and centre to this journey is Cusack, who playing more vulnerable and inwardly tormented than we’ve perhaps ever seen him before or since shines as Stanely. He not only looks the part of a man struggling to come to terms with not only losing his wife and best friend but a man that is trying his best to learn how to not only tell his daughters about this tragedy, but learning to in fact talk with them like the parent they will need. It’s not a showy turn but it’s a quietly devastating one and a reminder as to why at certain stages in his career Cusack has been one of the best performers in Hollywood. Surrounded by the impressive O’Keefe and Bednarczyk as Stanley’s daughters, Grace is Gone’s cast is a real winner.
In many ways slight yet in equal ways important and touching, Grace is Gone is one of the better Iraq war themed films that has been produced and with a great cast, a finely crafted score that was constructed by Clint Eastwood and a story that will resonate with many who watch it, Grace is Gone is the little movie that could and therefore should be watched by all.
4 pre-work morning rev ups out of 5