There wasn’t a dry eye in the house after the Variety Screening Series of “Grace is Gone,” on Monday at the Arclight. The film, written and directed by James C. Strouse, stars John Cusack as a military husband whose wife is killed in Iraq. Unable to break the tragic news to his two daughters, he takes them on a life-affirming road trip to a Florida amusement park.
“12 year-olds have the greatest bullshit detectors on the planet, so he’s trying to give them a little more innocence before the gravity of the situation crashes down on them,” said Cusack. “Maybe my job as an artist, is to tell one of these stories of those flag-draped coffins coming home.”
Wearing his producer hat, Cusack also discussed the film’s score written by the one and only Clint Eastwood. “We have a new young composer. I think he’s got a great future in the business,” Cusack joked before adding, “We had a terrific score but the music wasn’t quite where we wanted it to be, through no fault of the composer or the director. Harvey Weinstein had an idea to use Clint, so I talked to Clint and he said he wanted to do it. I felt really blessed that he came in and endorsed the film and raised it up to that next level. He’s done such an elegant theme, it gives me chills.”
At its heart, Cusack believes the film is “about an American family who’s made the ultimate sacrifice. In good writing and good filmmaking, there’s a conversation going on, and then there’s a whole other scene going on underneath that. There’s a sense of immediacy to this story. I think everybody supports the troops but not everybody supports the war.”