Monday, January 28, 2008


“GRACE IS GONE” (John Cusack)
This film was supposed to be out months ago – I had to keep asking ‘Is Grace Is Gone gone & never came to Seattle?’ I kept hearing how John Cusack would get a lot of Oscar buzz over his performance, but the end of 2007 came & no Grace Is Gone & no mention of Cusack as a possible Best Actor contender... It’s a mistake – John Cusack gives the performance of his life here – he is incredibly good. The opening sequence shows some old fuddy-duddy walking down a corridor as he gets closer you see that it might be John, but no this guy has a distinct ‘old guys’ gait – that can’t be John Cusack – but it is. On his way to give a pep talk to his fellow employees at the Home Store. He hooked me right then & there with the gait – he wasn’t John Cusack – he was Stanley Phillips, father of two daughters, husband of Grace; department store manager. Gone was the John Cusack smirk – the John Cusack eye roll – all of his stand by moves were gone & Stanley was now in command. I didn’t think he had it in him & I was very impressed.
Now, Grace’s death is announced within the first 10 minutes, so I’m not giving anything away here – what this movie deals with is how a grieving father tell his 12 & 8 year old daughters that their mother isn’t coming home from the war in Iraq.
Without seeing or knowing anything about Grace other than she was killed while fighting for ‘her’ country, Cusack makes you care about his plight with an absolutely brilliant performance, To see a weak Tommy Lee Jones vehicle get an Oscar nod while this role goes unrecognized is (bleep)ing criminal.
Yes, it’s sad – it is difficult to watch knowing what is eventually going to happen to these little girls as dad suddenly decides to take them on a road trip to a famous amusement park & starts granting their every wish; both girls by the way are outstanding young actors, Shelan O’Keefe as the older Heidi bares a remarkable resemblance to Paul Dano (the horrible so-called ‘actor’ who ruined “There Will Be Blood”) & Dawn is played by Gracie Bednarczyk, who has some flaws as any small child would but is already a better actor than Paul Dano.
I found myself wiping a tear from my eye more than once during this movie, but still found it a ‘joy’ to watch. Mr. Cusack, you have finally arrived on my A-List. Nicely done.


Kurt said...

Though Cusack has been around for well over 20 yeqars I still consider him in that group of 30ish - 40ish actors.

Those actors that I think are impressive are Cusack, Edward Norton, Giovani Ribisi, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Christian Bale, Robert Downey Jr. are tops in that age range to me.

I have not seen Grace, I must see it and rent it now from your review. Some argue he should have been nominated for this role. What do you think ? It was a pretty tough and competitive year.

terry r. said...

I thought 'Grace' was John Cusack's crowning achievement as an actor - he has over the years developed a 'style' of acting, has he not? In 'Grace Is Gone', there isn't a trace of that old 'style'-he engulfs his character & leaves 'Cusack' behind. It isn't an easy film to watch - it isn't really an enjoyable movie, but it hit me in my crusty old heart & moved me. Of the other 30-40-ish
actors you mentioned - wow, that's practically my 'Hall Of Fame' of actors in that age range! (With the exception of Ribisi - he's had his good moments & 'rocky' ones as well)
Yes, John Cusack should have been nominated for Best Actor over Tommy Lee Jones (Who was much better in 'No Country For Old Men' than he was in the boring 'Valley Of Elah') Philip Seymour Hoffman should have been given an Oscar for best 3 film performances in a single year (for 'Before The Devil Knows You're Dead', 'The Savages' & 'Charlie Wilson's War')
I also think its a crime that Christian Bale has never been nominated - He & Russell Crowe should have been given the 'Best Pair of Actors in a Movie' Oscar for '3:10 To Yuma'. Edward Norton disappeared for a while there, but has come back strong & Paul Giamatti, though he's had his ups & downs is fresh on my mind after watching the HBO miniseries on 'John Adams'. & to anyone that hasn't cared for John Cusack in the past, don't let that keep you from seeing 'Grace Is Gone'. It's a tearjerker, without question, but it's one of those 'great' tearjerkers that you won't soon forget. & Kurt, thanks for being the first to make a comment on this one. Look forward to hearing from you again.

Kurt B. said...

I'm going to go rent it now. I will get back to you on what I thought.

Kurt said...

I finally rented this movie and I'm glad I did. It is one of, if not the best performance by John. He really sells it in a genuine way that is really relatable. The subject matter is pretty grim, but life isn't always easy, especially with people serving our country. Had I not read your review, I wouldn't have known about it or weather it was worth it to see.

terry r. said...

Wow, that last line really makes me feel good, Kurt! It wasn't an
easy film to view, but well worth it for me. A shame John Cusack didn't get a nomination from the Academy, but I know here in Seattle it played for one week at one theatre(& I was awfully glad that I caught it!)
If you want to take another chance on a strong pick of mine, try to catch "The Visitor" before it goes away. Excellent movie with outstanding performances.