In one of his most acclaimed performances, John Cusack makes an astonishing transformation as Stanley Philips, a sad, disconnected man unable to tell his young daughters their mother, a soldier, has died in Iraq. Instead, he takes the girls on a road trip, where their innocent charm helps him rediscover a healing joy he thought he'd lost forever.
Unlike previous Iraq War films, the poignant directorial debut from writer James C. Strouse (Lonesome Jim) uses the conflict as starting point rather than subject. Early in the proceedings, Stanley (John Cusack) finds out his wife has been killed in the line of duty. The bespectacled disciplinarian decides not to tell his daughters right away. In his younger days, Stanley tried to serve his country, but poor eyesight dashed that dream, and now he's a superstore manager. The sort of middle-American conservative rarely seen at the art house, Stanley believes in his president. That doesn't alleviate his pain. Putting on a brave face, he asks his oblivious girls for their greatest wish. Eight-year-old Dawn (Gracie Bednarczyk) exclaims, "Enchanted Gardens!" With that, they hop in their SUV and drive from Minnesota to the Florida theme park. Twelve-year-old Heidi (ShÃ©lan O'Keefe) knows something is wrong--her dad isn't the spontaneous type--but she doesn't know what it is. En route, they visit Stanley's brother, John (Alessandro Nivola), who offers some insight into their bottled-up father. By the end of the trip, Stanley figures out how to break the news, in the process becoming a real parent. After winning the Audience Award at Sundance, Clint Eastwood, Cusack's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil director, gave the soundtrack a jazz-oriented overhaul. In tone, it's almost too refined for the blue-collar world Strouse depicts, but never distracting. More importantly, Grace Is Gone features Cusackâ€™s finest performance to date. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
12 Pictures of Grace Is Gone (2007)
6 Poster Pictures of Grace Is Gone (2007)
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