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Saving Grace

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Movie propaganda

A comedy about growth industries, joint ventures and budding relationships.

Two-time Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn stars as Grace Trevethen, whose late husband jumped out of a plane without a parachute. Grace has been left with a manor on the Cornish coast - and the massive, suffocating mountain of debt her husband had been secretly amassing. Now, with creditors and repossessors on her heels, Grace is faced with the prospect of losing everything.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, so when Grace is asked to tend an ailing, if illicit, plant belonging to the manor's soon-to-be sacked caretaker Matthew (Craig Ferguson), she gets an outrageous idea. Why not use her renowned green thumb to make some serious money and pay off her debts? Taken with the idea, Grace and Matthew transform her orchid hothouse into a prodigiously lucrative enterprise of another kind. In spite of the old adage that crime never pays, Grace's situation comes barrelling to a resolution in an adventure that inspires personal liberation, a touch of romance and delight for all.

Persons of interest

  • Brenda Blethyn .... Grace Trevethyn
  • Craig Ferguson .... Screenwriter, Matthew Stewart
  • Martin Clunes .... Dr Martin Bamford
  • Tchéky Karyo .... Jacques Chevalier
  • Jamie Foreman .... China MacFarlane
  • Bill Bailey .... Vince
  • Valerie Edmond .... Nicky
  • Tristan Sturrock .... Harvey
  • Clive Merrison .... Quentin Rhodes
  • Leslie Phillips .... Vicar Gerald Percy
  • Diana Quick .... Honey
  • Phyllida Law .... Margaret Sutton
  • Linda Kerr Scott .... Diana Singer
  • Denise Coffey .... Mrs Hopkins
  • Paul Brooke .... Charlie
  • Ken Campbell .... Sergeant Alfred Masely
  • Mark Crowdy .... Screenwriter
  • Nigel Cole .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Grass meets Secrets and lies.

Not that Brenda Blethyn's playing a similar character but Saving Grace has that distinct English flavour which Hollywood can't even begin to emulate; what's more, there's a whopping great dash of Cornwall thrown into the pot as well (pun unintended).

Saving Grace is a pure British film that can only exist in the current space and time. Marijuana is illegal but the world is becoming more and more sensible about it every day (I'm not advocating life-enhancement through chemistry, I just abhor the hypocrisy of governments who tax alcohol and tobacco but ban marijuana and party drugs) and in a quiet little corner of England a Cornish village can make up rules as it goes along.

Don't get me wrong, Saving Grace is no Cheech and Chong bubble and froth; it's a dark-edged, modern comedy that pits morals against necessity in a battle that only the noughties can understand: good people can do bad things for good reasons and still be good people. In more specific terms, Grace can grow mull to save her house while retaining the high moral ground. Before the relatively recent valorisation (by the goddess, I don't believe that I used that word in a film review) of the anti-hero, a character like Grace would be incomprehensible.

Welcome to the real world.

Everyone in this film is clearly having a great time making it; there's a sense of community among the actors which flows over into the characters and their sense of community. Saving Grace feels good from the start, like a dream wrapped in cotton wool or a good episode of The Bill (which is still The Bill, even though it's gone soft). It's only when they travel to London that the community begins to fracture: because they have left their community it can no longer be the safe haven it once was. The genie don't go back in the bottle.

Which is where the pun comes in. The title of the film is not just about finding a way to save Grace's lifestyle, but the redeeming feature which can be found in even the darkest figure. Jacques, the (London, drug-dealing) bad guy turns out to desire exactly the sense of community and, shall I say, favour that Grace is so desperate to keep. She is his redemption and he is hers. If Grace falls a little from her underworld dealings and he rises a little from his pretensions they can meet in the middle and live happily ever after. And for once, I am glad that they do.

Saving Grace is the kind of film that you and your mother could enjoy together, irrespective of whether she mulls up or not. You can see it with your friends, with that special someone, or even on your own: it doesn't matter, just as long as you do.

Security censorship classification

MA 15+ (Drug use)

Surveillance time

101 minutes (1:41 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

DVD retail: 10 September 2001
VHS retail: 12 June 2002

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