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, ... more »he takes the girls on a road trip, where their innocent charm helps him rediscover a healing joy he thought he'd lost forever.« less
Sharon F. (Shar) from HIALEAH, FL Reviewed on 9/29/2022...
Haunting and tragic, but beautifully done by all the actors in this wonderful movie about loss and moving on.
Elizabeth B. (bethieof96) from NINETY SIX, SC Reviewed on 5/17/2013...
Interesting movie. John Cusack plays a good part in raising his two daughters.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Angie V. from DANVILLE, VA Reviewed on 1/14/2013...
It's a sad story of how a father tries to deal with his wife's death. Definitely not my favorite John Cusack movie.
0 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Tzipora K. (shorty20) from BROOKLYN, NY Reviewed on 1/21/2011...
John Cusack plays it very well.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Steven H. (sehamilton) from BIRMINGHAM, AL Reviewed on 5/31/2010...
Reserved, understated film dealing with the impact upon the family of a spouse's death in war. Cusack gives a wonderful, heartbreaking performance as the surviving spouse who can't bring himself to inform his two daughters of their mother's death. The two young actresses are perfect in their roles. There is no action in this film; no war-time footage of soldiers in combat. An incredible character study that brings the human cost of war to a deeply intimate, personal level. Well-worth seeing.
6 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
Alice H. (singlegalkansas) from TOPEKA, KS Reviewed on 3/28/2009...
I thought this movie could have been so much better!! I wasn't impressed.
0 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Grace is gone
Mark Daniels | slippery rock, PA | 02/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a beautiful film about how a family must adjust once it has experienced a painful loss. this past week, a colleague of mine lost his only child, his daughter, in an accident. he and his wife will somehow have to adjust to living without her, being a pair instead of a three some. I dont know how they will do it - I cant imagine the journey they are on. This film is about that journey, one none of us would choose to take. This is what grace is gone is about: the family affected by loss is a dad, and his two daughters. They live in a struggling middle class life, without amenities, and mom is serving in Iraq. Dad was in the army too, but his eyesight became too bad and he was discharged. This is a patriotic couple - they met while both were serving in the army. he finds out his wife, grace, is killed in action. he has to tell his daughters, but he doesnt know how, because he cant imagine living without Grace...he takes his daughters on a road trip and along the way, the three adjust to life as a three some without mom. Of course, at the end, he has to tell his daughters what has happened. No spoilers here. The movie is beautiful. Well acted. Clint Eastwood wrote the music (!?) this is not anti war, this is not michael friggin Moore crap - it is a story about loss, and hope and...well, grace. I have read lots of negative reviews from hyper jingoists about how this film is anti war, anti bush etc - no, its about loss and continuing to live. I have know people who have experienced loss, and have not gone on: I remember a couple who lost their teenage son in an accident many years ago, they were always outside working on their house, their yard, their christmas displays, always with their son, and after the accident, the shades were drawn the yard went to hell, no christmas display and I never saw them outside again - they shut down. The dad in this movie cant shut down - he has a big responsibility to his wife to be a good dad and raise their children. Absolutely brilliant movie - Johnny Cusack is amazing.
"I Regret To Inform You ~ I Did Everything I Wanted To Do"
Brian E. Erland | Brea, CA - USA | 06/08/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Synposis: The '07 release `Grace Is Gone' is an exceedingly sad story of one families loss when Grace, a wife and mother is killed during a military engagement in Iraq. Upon receiving uniformed visitors and hearing those dreaded words, "I regret to inform you..." her husband Stanely (John Cusack) finds himself unable to deal with his own emotions, not to mention those of his two young daughters, twelve year old Heidi (Shelan O'Keefe) and eight year old Dawn (Gracie Bednarcyk).
He decides to take them on a road trip to a place of their choice. Little Gracie wants to go to "Enchanted Garden", an amusement park several days away by car. The journey that ensues becomes a metaphor for the grieving process as Stanley learns to reconnect with his children and find a way to share the bad news. Is he just avoiding the inevitable, or will their time together somehow ease the pain to come teach them to appreciate what they still have, each other?
Critique: John Cusack proves once again that there isn't any role he cannot excel in and the thoughtful, reserved Shelan O'Keefe along with the irrepressible Gracie Bednarcyk are the perfect compliement for this little family unit adrift in a sea of pending grief. This is definitely a mood movie, so if you're not in the mood for a slowly unfolding, somber journey of finding center and re-connect with life this isn't the film for you. However if you've lost a loved one in the military or just in a quiet, reflective space and open to the subject matter `Grace Is Gone' is the film for you."
"Over There" is definitely felt "Over Here"
B. Merritt | WWW.FILMREVIEWSTEW.COM, Pacific Grove, California | 07/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Looking for a good tear-jerker? You could hardly find one better than GRACE IS GONE. Topical. Family oriented. It is something of a surprising role for John Cusack who started his career with low-brow comedies (Better Off Dead and One Crazy Summer). But this independent gem shows that Cusack has the wherewithal to spot a solid, dramatic part and run with it. Although Cusack has done some off-and-on stand-up work, things like The Ice Harvest and Pushing Tin were a bit thin on character. But not so here.
And, even more surprising, the film brings two unknowns to play alongside Cusack. The two are also very young girls who show that Dakota Fanning (Charlotte's Web) isn't the only young gal who can act her heart out. Shélan O'Keefe stars as Heidi Phillips, Stanley Phillips' (Cusack's) eldest daughter and does so with astonishing ...um ...grace. Trying to find her way into adolescence while watching her father implode is quite nicely portrayed. Her first attempts at smoking and her nighttime wanderings are something many parents will be able to identify with.
Stanley's younger daughter Dawn is played by newcomer Gracie Bednarczyk, and her portions where she's jousting with her older sister are spot on. Not understanding what's happening to their family is significant in that someone of her age truly wouldn't know. But the suspicions of her elder sister set her on edge ...just a tad.
Grace is Gone is a very good war film. And by war I mean a film that focuses on its impact on the home-front. When Stanley (Cusack) learns of his wife's death in Iraq, it takes some mental juggling for him to come to terms with what that means for him and his two young daughters. This is the crux of the story. When Stanley can't release the information to his kids, he hides it by taking them to a fun theme park many miles away. It seems he wants his kids to have fun before breaking the worst news of their lives to them ...and, in a sense, re-breaking it to himself. Stanley loses sight of what he needs to do, and even becomes a bit delusional (he calls his own home to tell his dead-wife that he and the kids are okay, etc.).
The gut-wrenching scene when Stanley MUST tell the kids what happened to their mother is one of the hardest things any parent will ever have to watch. The musical score comes up over the voice of Stanley and we don't get to hear everything he says, which we don't need to; we can see it on the childrens' faces. A truly powerful moment that will linger with you for many days, if not weeks.
It is noteworthy to mention how topical this film is since the war in Iraq seems far from over. Men and women continue to die "over there" and when that might end is anyone's guess. But one thing is for certain, the traumas felt "over there" definitely ripple "over to here". And that's something that this film shows us exceptionally well."
An amazing emotional film
D. Everette | Macedonia | 11/20/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Grace is Gone does for the tear jerker genre what Paranormal Activity did for scary movies. It's a film that actually comes through on its premise. John Cusack is far outside of his normal character and an emotional freight train. The two girls that play his daughters are each in their own rights charming, believable and devastating. I love this movie even though it is one of the hardest things I've ever watched. I couldn't wait to purchase this masterpiece so my wife could watch it as I knew it would devastate her as it had me. Nothing like torturing the wife!!!"
A one-note expression of grief that never seems to register.
Andrew Ellington | I'm kind of everywhere | 10/27/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I've been anticipating this movie since, well, early 2007 when John Cusack was rumored to be heading for an Oscar nomination. I have never really been a huge Cusack fan (at least not John, for I have always adored his sister Joan) but there was something about the plot and concept of this film that just really spoke to me. I love these somber character studies, and grief is one of the most emotionally connective ways to study someone's character.
Conceptually, `Grace is Gone' has promise, but the way in which the film is constructed turns that promise in an empty gesture.
The film revolves around Stanley Phillips, a former soldier who, because of poor eyesight, has been reduced to department store manager. While his wife is overseas, fighting the war he wishes he could fight, Stanley raises their two daughters, Heidi and Dawn. When word comes that Grace, his wife, has died, Stanley struggles with his own feelings as well as when and how to tell his daughters. Instead of just `telling' them, Stanley decides to take them on a trip, driving from Minnesota to Florida to visit a theme park.
For me, and I know I'm in the minority here, the film feels very bland. It comes across like a `made for television' movie, very middle of the road and amateurish. The performances are all decent, but nothing truly admirable (except Alessandro Nivola, who has a small but important part, and he plays it flawlessly). John Cusack's approach to grief is very one-note. He just looks grumpy throughout the entire film. In fact, the films conclusion is the only part to remotely works for me, for it shows a father actually being a father. Yes, I understand that grief is a very tumultuous thing, and it affects people differently; I just wish that Cusack had found the layers within his character. It is preposterous to conclude that his daughters wouldn't figure out what was going on; I mean, their father doesn't even shower. It was an overstated depiction of grief to me. I have seen people shut down when a loved one dies, but when you have children you can't really `shut down' to the extent that Stanley does.
It feels like a performance, not something genuine. Watch Tom Wilkinson in `In the Bedroom' for an accurate and stunning portrayal of grief.
The other aspect of the film that I found rather distracting was the way it couldn't clearly decide what film it wanted to be. It fluctuated between a film about grief to a film about war, and I think that the political stand it was trying to make actually took away from the film. It is a part of Stanley that needed to be expressed in order to flesh out his character, and so I respect that decision, but they needed more time to make it feel more than just a random expression. The film is barely over an hour in length and so it almost feels simplistic, never really `going there' as it needed to in order to make either of the films two primary topics connect with the viewer.
I've read some complaints (not here necessarily) about the way in which the climax is delivered to the audience. Personally, the films conclusion is the best part of the film. The way the dialog is stripped during the theme park scene (and another pertinent scene) and the facial expressions (happy or sad) are allowed to do all the talking for us was truly inspired and beautifully tailored to elicit our deepest emotional sympathies. Yes, I broke down in tears at the final scene (which did feel more manipulated than anything else) but one small speckle of brilliance (I don't consider the manipulated emotions brilliance, but the two scenes leading up to it are) doesn't make the film worth watching. There are far better films that tackle this subject (`In the Bedroom' for one) and so I'd recommend you watch one of those."