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LOOKING FOR GRACE

SYNOPSIS: When rebellious 16 year old (Grace (Odessa Young) takes off from home, her exasperated mum and dad (Radha Mitchell, Richard Roxburgh) enlist the help of a detective on the eve of retirement and begin the long drive from Perth to the West Australian wheat belt trying to find her.

Review by Louise Keller:
A jigsaw puzzle of insignificant things form the canvass on which Sue Brook's drama about guilt and loss are set. The screenplay's structure, the tempo of the dialogue and the fact that the story is told from different perspectives sets the tone. Everything hinges around Grace (Odessa Young) and her bus ride into the heart of the remote West Australian countryside.

Apart from the first and last lengthy segments, the ones in between are short but each contains a recognizable event or location that links the characters in time. In the first segment titled Grace's Story, we meet Grace and her friend Sappho (Kenya Pearson) on a bus headed for the unknown. They are having a great time listening to music on their ipods, shaking their hair in time with the rhythms. There's a change of dynamic when another passenger gets on the bus - the tall, dark and handsome Jamie (Harry Richardson). Hormones are raging and we immediately sense the attraction between Grace and Jamie. Suddenly three is a crowd.

An unpaid motel room, an ice-cream stop, ducks waddling across a busy road, turkey and sage sausages, lesbian birthdays, smelly feet, a valuable ceramic pot, an open safe, a long-kept secret and local cop with a guilty conscience are some of the insignificant things that are part of the narrative. Bit by bit as we gather bits of the jigsaw as we see life from the perspectives of the truck driver Bruce (Myles Pollard) with the young son, the old cop Tom (Terry Norris) who is concerned about his teeth, Grace's mother Denise (Radha Mitchell) and her father Dan (Richard Roxburgh) who tells his wife everything - or nearly everything.

The dialogue is stilted and at times awkward. The scene in which Denise and Dan sit side by side on the lounge discussing their missing daughter is less than credible. Scenes like the one involving Denise and two cleaning contractors employed to clean the lounge seem pointless. Brooks' reason for all the insignificant issues is clearly to build character and I like the scene when Tom and Dan have a heart to heart conversation outside the motel.

Throughout, there is a sense of the flat, endless dry countryside that has a sameness. Elizabeth Drake's music and soundscape is striking in that it echoes that sameness, keeping the pitch at a particular level. Mitchell and Young are especially good, but all the performances are fine, with special mention to Kenya Pearson, who has terrific screen presence. The pieces of the jigsaw do come together, although some like me, may not be satisfied by the outcome.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

LOOKING FOR GRACE (M)
(Aust, 2015)

CAST: Odessa Young, Radha Mitchell, Richard Roxburgh, Jennieka Chattelie, Rhett Clarke, Korum Ellis, Bailey Hester, Holly Jones, Tasma Walton

PRODUCER: Lizette Atkins, Sue Taylor, Alison Tilson

DIRECTOR: Sue Brooks

SCRIPT: Sue Brooks

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Katie Milwright

EDITOR: tba

MUSIC: Elizabeth Drakes

PRODUCTION DESIGN: tba

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 26, 2016







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