Saving Grace

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Movie Review by Vickie Jones

Starring: Brenda Blethyn, Martin Clunes

Director: Nigel Cole

WHAT do you do if you are a middle-aged woman left up to your eyes in debt after your husband passes away? You could either cry yourself to sleep every night, go out and find yourself a job in a local supermarket, or take the more diverse option of harvesting your own crop of cannabis. This is the wacky plot of new British film SAVING GRACE, starring Brenda Blethyn and Martin Clunes, which sees a widow turning to a life of drug dealing to make ends meet.

Despite being dubbed as a comedy this film severely lacks the gags you would have hoped for. I waited with baited breath for the one liners, which would have me rolling around the aisles, but unfortunately these did not come.

The potential to turn this film into the next English blockbuster was definitely there but sadly the scriptwriters were not and it fell short of anything better than a television sitcom. So, this left me feeling slightly miffed as to why a bidding war was started at the Sundance Film Festival, hosted in Utah, for this film ? perhaps I missed something? Like most people I?m an avid fan of television comedy MEN BEHAVING BADLY, starring Martin Clunes, but he fails to shine in this due to the dry script. The only character who made any impact was the local bobby Sgt Alfred, played by Ken Campbell, who was more concerned with salmon poachers than drug dealers and only came into his own at the end of the film.

Glenda Blethyn?s performance was solid but verged on the irritating. I found this disappointing coming from a multi-award-winning actress, who starred in SECRETS AND LIES and LITTLE VOICE. It was difficult to work up any empathy for Grace, played by Blethyn, as she did little more than mourn the death of her husband over a pot of tea, before carrying on with her life. It was therefore unfortunate the whole film hung on Blethyn?s central performance.

The setting on the Cornish coast was appropriate for this film but the plot never builds up any pace. The only diversion was when Grace takes it upon herself to head off to the bright lights of London to drum up some business and off-load her home grown drugs. However, this was farcical rather than comical.

SAVING GRACE was directed by Nigel Cole, whose accolades include the highly acclaimed thirtysomething COLD FEET drama. I can?t help feeling he is in the transitional period of making the leap from television to feature film and needs a meatier script to get his teeth into.

Admittedly the whole concept behind a middle-aged woman being widowed and making a fast buck from selling marijuana instead of her prize-winning orchids is ingenious. Producer Mark Crowdy, on a plane back from Los Angeles dreamed up this idea. However, unfortunately some ideas don?t quite make it off the ground.

I?m all for the British making films and I know how tough it can be to get the financial backing. But this film is unlikely to become a box office smash not because it fails to use a huge Hollywood star but because the ingredients were not there in the script from the start. However, this film made me appreciate what good quality dramas we do have on television. This is more for the small screen rather than its bigger brother.

2 out of 6 stars