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SAVING GRACE

SYNOPSIS:
When a woman unknown to Grace (Brenda Blethyn) shows up at her husband's funeral, Grace gets her second hint that she may have not known everything there was to know about the man she was burying. His suicide provided the first hint. Much worse is to come though when his secret dealings are quickly exposed as the various creditors make themselves known in the most brutal of ways. Unless she can come up with a staggering amount of money, Grace will lose her stunning home. The problem is that her only skill is an exceptional ability as a gardener, and that certainly isn't going to produce the necessary funds. Or is it? Her Scottish groundkeeper Matthew (Craig Ferguson) may well have the answer …

"You can call the script of Saving Grace predictable or ridiculous or a fable – or plain silly. I prefer the latter. The problem with it is that for the payoff to have any weight, we have to get more seriously involved with Grace – and indeed, the other characters. But by pushing the comedic instead of the dramatic subtext, director Nigel Cole has given his film a sit-com feel without the economy. The picture-postcard village setting is the most enjoyable part of the film, and there are occasional moments of fun, but as a whole movie, it is rather slight. From the weak set up to the struggling plotline, Saving Grace needs an almighty injection of a tough as British boots script doctor to come to life. Despite its clever ending and end credits coda, I found the film laboured and uninvolving."
Andrew L. Urban

"Gentle in its humour, spectacular for its vistas, Saving Grace is a light hearted character driven tale about a young widow's determination to survive. The humour of course relies on the uncharacteristic behaviour of its central character, Grace, and its strengths are the delightful characters we meet along the way. The village community may be reminiscent of Waking Ned Devine, but the script struggles for credibility and rather than believing what happens, we feel as though it is all a bit ridiculous. But having said that, Saving Grace is an entertaining romp, a comedy of errors, that in many ways redeems itself by its ending, albeit fairy-tale like. Brendy Blethyn plays Grace with convincing sincerity, and while his character is over the top, Tcheky Karyo's French drug lord is entertaining. But you do need to take a leap in faith – after all the leap from threatening to chop off Grace's fingers to offering her a glass of wine is a pretty big one. When Grace and Matthew try out the merchandise with the striking coastline of glistening green water and crisp white spray beckon below, I couldn't help but thinking 'I want what she's having.' It is one of the moments that the sponteneity of the performances really transmits. The character actors steal the scenes: I especially like the part where the little old biddies starts brewing the leaves that they think are tea – we can almost inhale the aroma from our seats. Poignant, funny and a hit of total escapism, Saving Grace is a frivolous frolic and a totally legal indulgence."
Louise Keller

"Twice Academy Award nominated Brenda Blethyn (Secrets and Lies, Little Voice)
is an absolute delight in the title role of Saving Grace. The filmmakers must have been a little concerned that the title would lend itself to reviews titled 'Blethyn Saves Grace' but this would not be too far from the truth. Yes screenwriter and co-star Craig Ferguson has peppered a fast moving plot with snappy lines galore from the local barman's observations about Kafka and Jackie Collins to many gems from Grace such as "We've got a Swiss bank account. There's nothing in it, but we do have one". But even here it is Blethyn's deadly accurate timing that squeezes every ounce from the laugh. The big problem with Ferguson's script (from a story by Mark Crowdy) is it's reliance on cliché and thus its relentless predictability. Again it is the freshness of Blethyn that helps us overlook these difficulties. Television director Nigel Cole manages a few nice visuals, though it is most likely the special effects people who are most responsible for the film's best visual: the lighting up of the greenhouse. Otherwise, his choices are on the ordinary side. Blethyn's support cast give us comfortably likeable caricatures, ably assisting the star turn. But it is Blethyn's film. Her introduction in the greenhouse is almost a theatrical set piece, a moment which suggests immediately that she's going to have to be in top form to carry this film. And carry it she does. Her ability to turn hysteria into poignancy and back again quite seemlessly is to be revered. Brenda Blethyn turns Saving Grace into the feel good experience of the year."
Lee Gough

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1

SOUNDTRACK REVIEW

SAVING GRACE (MA15+)
(UK)

CAST: Brenda Blethyn, Craig Ferguson, Martin Clunes, Tcheky Karyo, Jamie Foreman, Bill Bailey, Valerie Edmond, Tristan Sturrock, Clive Merrison, Leslie Phillips

DIRECTOR: Nigel Cole

PRODUCER: Mark Crowdy

SCRIPT: Craig Ferguson, Mark Crowdy (story by Mark Crowdy)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John de Borman BSC

EDITOR: AlanStrachan

MUSIC: Mark Russell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Eve Stewart

RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: REP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 12, 2000







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