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November 14, 2010

Movie Review: Grace (2009, Blu-Ray)

For those of you in the know, my wife and I have decided to not have children. Just a choice that we made that we’re comfortable with. After watching Grace, though, I’m very happy about the decision. What a kick in the teeth to all you breeders out there. This freshman effort from Paul Solet is a bit much to take at times, and it builds slowly, but the film culminates in some very disturbing stuff. Grace gets a bad rap, though. The marketing leading to the release was a bit off and presented the film as a gross-out comedy. It is far from comedic and if that is what you were expecting, you expected wrong.

Buy Grace on Blu-Ray!

Briefly, the film entails the trials and tribulations of a young woman (Jordan Ladd) and her husband who have trouble conceiving. After visiting with her homeopathic mentor, the young woman not only becomes pregnant, but comes to term. There are issues at the birth, and the baby is believed to have not survived the birthing process. But, the will of a mother is not to be denied! Miraculously, at first, the baby seems to make a startling recovery and is a normal, healthy child. What our new mother finds out, though, is that her baby is a little… off. The miracle child needs human blood to survive (not like a vampire, more like a, well, I’m not sure what). Flies constantly surround the infant and, unfortunately for Mom, she is a breast feeder. Her husband’s untimely death (accident, don’t worry, no homicidal babies here) brings the mother-in-law into the fray who has never liked our baby mama anyway. Cue dark, disturbing, violent and very, very wet child custody shenanigans far outside a court of law. Toss in a lesbian love interest from the homeopathic doctor/mentor lady and you’ve got a trifecta of hot button issues.

Grace  builds slowly and effectively, though. There are some of the usual indie films gaffes (some less than stellar lighting, uneven minor performances, etc.) but it is an admirable efforts with some very authentic chills to be had. Jordan Ladd as our young mother is incredibly effective. She really pulled off the determined mother shtick quite well. If her performance were in a Lifetime movie of the week, dealing with a child that normal issues like meth addiction or being pregnant at twelve years old, the same performance would have been far too good. Gabrielle Rose was wonderfully manic as the ‘stop at nothing’ mother-in-law. The trio of lethal ladies was rounded out with a beautifully sympathetic, but ultimately damaged, rendition of our homeopathic mentor by Samantha Ferris. The male characters didn’t fare so well. Best not to even bring this up since the review is starting to look like the feedback session from a NOW team building project and I wouldn’t want to spoil the momentum.

I consider this first feature from Paul Solet a minor triumph. It screened to much ado at Sundance in 2008 and much of that ado was warranted. Grace is an effective thriller, not some campy gore-schlock fest. It is a smart film and, if you go out on a limb and get there, the final scene is pretty tough to swallow. Pun most definitely intended.

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