New on DVD: Grace is Gone

Posted: May 27, 2008 in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
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This is not a film with many peaks and falls; rather, it is a series of small hills over which the characters roll. In addition, it is not overtly political; rather, it makes a statement by simply taking a genuine look at the other casualties of war: the soldiers’ families.

Stanley’s (John Cusack) wife is serving in Iraq while he and their two daughters try to carry-on normally until she returns. But one morning Stanley’s routine is interrupted by the doorbell and on his porch he finds two men in uniform. ”We regret to inform you… ” Unable to tell the girls their mother is dead, Stanley avoids the subject by taking them on a spontaneous road trip to an amusement park.

Shélan O’Keefe is impressive as 12-year-old Heidi, forced to grow up and unable to sleep while her mom is away. Cusack is subdued and often puzzled by his inability to relate to his daughters but his sincerity never waivers. Determined to give an accurate portrayal, Cusack approached the father who inspired his character for direction.

The film consistently looks over lit, causing the colours to look surreal, which is fitting considering Stanley’s state of mind.

The behind-the-scenes feature sheds light on the inspiration of the film and the political motivations of its writer/director and star. In addition, a conversation with the real life family is included, although their story is quite different from the one told in the film.

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