Grace is Gone (2007)

Poignant.

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That’s usually the word critics use to describe well-made dramatic movies that tug at the heart strings and leave behind a lasting impression.

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James C. Strouse’s Grace is Gone is one such wonderful film. It tells the story of one Stanley Philipps (John Cusack), a working father whose wife is deployed in the Iraq war. When he is told that his wife was killed in action, he decides to take his daughters to an amusement park all the way in Florida instead of telling them what happened. The road trip is what makes the bulk of the movie, and it is where we see the roller coaster of emotions that engulf Stanley and the two children.

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While I am no fan of dramatic movies, I initially found myself drawn to this one mainly because it was John Cusack in the starring role (and somebody gave me the dvd haha). When I popped in the DVD, i was greatly surprised to see a completely different Cusack. Gone was the witty, sarcastic and fast-talking character that Cusack was known for and in its place was a character out of touch with his own children. Impressive and inspiring, Cusack managed to show that he had the ability to take on different types of roles and pull them off convincingly. 

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I may not know much about how the US-Iraq war affects American families, but I do know a thing or two about familial relationships. Absence and distance may make the heart grow fonder, but it is always a struggle to cope when you’re desperately missing a loved one. The movie captures that struggle and you can’t help but empathize with the characters.

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Grace is Gone is, hands down, a heart-wrenchingly beautiful film. Maybe it’s not for the tough guys, but it still is worth a watch. =)

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