“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.