×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Saving Grace

A solid showcase for its young talent, but a bit heavy on the red herrings.

With:
With: Mandy Bo, Jason Barbeck, Peter Coady.

A solid showcase for its young talent, but a bit heavy on the red herrings, “Saving Grace” is a hostage drama that doesn’t quite work as a psychological thriller precisely, and ironically, because it so successfully leads its audience down the primrose path. The film has merit as a character study, though, and will likely be remembered for being both the inaugural feature of helmer Chris Pickle and the screen debut of Canadian model Mandy Bo. Cable play seems to be the pic’s best bet.

Evocative of 1965’s “The Collector” (without the literary pedigree of John Fowles) and 2008’s “Deadgirl” (without the torture portn), “Saving Grace” is a suspense tale in which the motives of the captor and the sanity of the captive are constantly in question. Grace (Bo) is a nurse who has lost custody of her baby daughter and finds solace in heroin. When she’s taken to the hospital where she works after an overdose, she comes under the eye of a custodian, Clayton (Jason Barbeck, solid), whose flat-toned narration and mountain-man/survivalist lifestyle mark him as a bit suspect. Clayton once kept a rabbit in a cage, and it didn’t work out. He seems to want to give larger game a try.

Pickle and co-writer Filip Premrl know that bewilderment can often be the mother of suspense, and we don’t know quite enough about Clayton to decide on his motives. We do know that when Grace finally gains consciousness, she’s a captive in the basement of the abandoned school building where Clayton lives. Clayton tells her there’s been some kind of emergency involving explosions, and he brought her there for her own safety. She’s not quite buying it; neither are we.

The strategic error the film makes is in not establishing the “emergency” soon enough; Grace assumes at the beginning that she’s been abducted for the most nefarious of purposes, but then makes only the lamest attempts to escape. She’s not hysterical, surprisingly, and exhibits little desperation, except when it comes to drugs; she’s apparently hardcore enough to shoot up whatever she can find lying around, though she hardly looks like a degenerate junkie (actually, she looks like a young Julie Christie, if Julie Christie had played varsity soccer). Despite this, Grace is not a very admirable hostage, being neither upset enough nor redeemable enough to elicit the viewer’s sympathy.

But Bo acquits herself well, as does Peter Coady as Clayton’s malevolent pal Hank, and Barbeck makes Clayton a singular, uncategorizable psycho. Or, maybe not a psycho at all — maybe he’s just Grace’s savior? The problem with how it all comes together in “Saving Grace” is that it all comes apart as well.

Tech credits are above average, particularly the Red camerawork of d.p. Cameron Hucker, who gives the basement scenes an appropriately claustrophobic edge and achieves a nuanced, textured intimacy in his closeups.

Saving Grace

Canada

Production: A Knock Out Films presentation. Produced by Chris Pickle. Executive producer, George Flak. Directed by Chris Pickle. Screenplay, Pickle, Filip Premrl.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Cameron Hucker; editor, Jordan Krug; music, Varouje Hagopian; costume designer, Kelly Spinarski; sound (Dolby Digital), Kevin Coulvillion; re-recording mixers, Allen Ormerod, Matthew Harrold; casting, Ron Leach. Reviewed at Fantasia Fim Festival, Montreal, June 19, 2010. Running time: 85 MIN.

With: With: Mandy Bo, Jason Barbeck, Peter Coady.

More Film

  • Oscar OScars Placeholder

    Cinematographers Praise Academy Reversal: 'We Thank You for Your Show of Respect'

    Cinematographers who fought the decision to curtail four Oscar presentations have praised the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for reversing the exclusions. “We thank you for your show of respect for the hard-working members of the film community, whose dedication and exceptional talents deserve the public recognition this reversal now allows them to enjoy,” [...]

  • Peter Parker and Miles Morales in

    'Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse' Colored Outside the Lines

    The well-worn superhero genre and one of its best-known icons are unlikely vehicles for creating a visually fresh animated feature. But Sony Pictures Animation’s work on the Oscar-nominated animated feature “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” shows throwing out the rule book and letting everyone play in the creative sandbox can pay off big. “I think we [...]

  • Denis Villeneuve

    Denis Villeneuve's 'Dune' Gets November 2020 Release Date

    Warner Bros. has scheduled Legendary’s science-fiction tentpole “Dune” for a Nov. 20, 2020, release in 3D and Imax. “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa is in negotiations to join the “Dune” reboot with Timothee Chalamet, Javier Bardem, Rebecca Ferguson, Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin, Oscar Isaac, and Zendaya. Production is expected to launch in the spring [...]

  • James Bond Spectre

    Bond 25 Moved Back Two Months to April 2020

    James Bond will arrive two months later than planned as MGM moved back the release date on the untitled Bond 25 movie from Feb. 14 to April 8, 2020 — a Wednesday before the start of Easter weekend. It’s the second delay for Bond 25. MGM and Eon originally announced in 2017 that the film [...]

  • Fast and Furious 8

    'Fast and Furious 9' Release Date Pushed Back Six Weeks

    Universal Pictures has shifted “Fast and Furious 9” back six weeks from April 10 to May 22, 2020 — the start of the Memorial Day weekend. It’s the second backwards shift for the title. In 2017, Universal moved the film back a year from April 19, 2019, to April 10, 2020. Both dates fall on [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    'Alita' Inching Past 'Lego Movie 2' at Presidents Day Weekend Box Office

    James Cameron’s “Alita: Battle Angel” has a slight edge over “The Lego Movie 2” in a tight race for domestic box office supremacy during Presidents Day weekend. Both are aiming for about $27 million, early estimates showed on Friday. More Reviews Film Review: 'Great Bear Rainforest' London Theater Review: 'The American Clock' The two titles [...]

  • Ludwig Goransson Black Panther Composer

    Complete Guide to This Year's Oscar-Nominated Scores

    Unlike the song category, it’s impossible to predict the winner from this year’s quintet of original-score nominees. It’s almost anyone’s game. Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson spent a month in Africa recording unusual drums, flutes and vocals, then adding them to a massive London orchestra and choir to create a unique soundscape for the fictional land [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content