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Grace Is Gone - Preview

John Cusack in Grace Is Gone

Preview by Jack Foley

ONE of the biggest questions surrounding Hollywood right now is how to approach the subject of the Iraq war. Entertainment Weekly recently published an article examining why the subject remains so taboo.

Some directors insist it’s because there has been no conclusion to the war. No one knows quite how to depict it. There are acts of heroism and stories of how key early battles in the toppling of Sadam Hussein were won. But as yet, no one has been brave enough to tackle the current issues head-on.

Television has tried but in the case of Over There it has failed. Perhaps a nation such as America isn’t ready to confront the issue just yet when there is so much despair and pessimism surrounding the war against terror.

That’s not to say Hollywood isn’t trying. Samuel L Jackson, Jessica Biel and 50 Cent recently appeared in a film about the war called Home Of The Brave (which flopped), while there are more on the way.

One of the most interesting of these is the John Cusack star vehicle Grace Is Gone which played to considerable acclaim at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Cusack stars as Stanley Phillips, a patriot and father of two, who is devastated when he gets news that his wife, Grace, has been killed in the Iraq war. Though distraught himself, he tries to rally the strength to tell his young daughters.

Instead, he takes them on a road trip to their favourite amusement park while trying to summon up the courage to tell them. However, the ensuing trip proves he must first learn who his daughters are before he can begin helping them overcome the tragedy.

John Cooper, of the Sundance website, wrote that “John Cusack’s achingly poignant performance is the backbone of Grace Is Gone“.

He adds that Cusack is always superb in finding pathos in characters, “but as Stanley, he exhibits a newfound maturity as an actor”.

And praise also goes to his two young co-stars and to Alessandro Nivola, who plays Stanley’s liberal brother, and “the perfect foil” for Stanley’s belief systems.

Cooper concludes that writer/director James Strouse “rightfully secures a place on the indie scene”, adding: “His dialogue is sparse; instead, carefully chosen images convey this family’s difficulty in reconnecting… Grace Is Gone is sure to be exalted as the freshest and best anti-war movie of this troubled time.”

Keep an eye out for it as it makes its way into UK cinemas later this year or early next.