Saving Grace

The giggles: Grace and Matthew (Blethyn and Ferguson) test out their latest crop...
dir Nigel Cole
scr Craig Ferguson, Mark Crowdy
with Brenda Blethyn, Craig Ferguson, Valerie Edmund, Martin Clunes, Tristan Sturrock, Leslie Phillips, Tcheky Karyo, Phyllida Law, John Fortune, Jamie Foreman, Bill Bailey, Clive Merrison
Fox 00/UK 3 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
With an engaging story and a sharply written script, Saving Grace is an enjoyable, breezy comedy ... without much depth to worry about. It's packed with colourful small-town characters, nicely detailed by the actors, who keep us chuckling even when the story drags while you wait for the next joke or sight gag.

We're in coastal Cornwall, where Grace (Blethyn) is shocked by her husband's accidental death. But that's nothing compared to the next surprise: He's left her heavily indebted to virtually everyone. So in a moment of desperation, she and her handyman Matthew (Ferguson) decide to grow a batch of hemp to make some quick money. Soon the entire town is complicit in Grace's secret ... and then the drug dealers and bankers descend from London.

There are some excellent scenes throughout the film, inspired bits of light comedy that work wonders and bring out the quirkiness of the setting without relying on small-town cliches. Blethyn and Ferguson are, of course, superb in the central roles, with nice support from the likes of Edmund (as Matthew's worried, pregnant girlfriend), Clunes (the hapless town doctor), Sturrock (their nervous friend), et al. Cole's direction is nothing terribly special, but he handles the scenes effectively and nicely captures the natural beauty. And he at least keeps things bright and funny when the story gets a bit too complicated and corny (not just Cornish) at the end, which is a rather shameless copout. Satisfying yes, but not nearly as clever as what went before.

[15--themes, language, drugs] 23.Mar.00
UK release 19.May.00; US release 4.Aug.00

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall