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Look out for more coverage of
Grace is Gone in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Grace is Gone

THE STARS:
John Cusack • Shelan O’Keefe • Gracie Bednarczyk • Alessandro Nivola
DIRECTOR: James C Strouse

John Cusack THE CONCEPT:
Stanley Phillips struggles as the single parent to his two daughters, 12 year old Heidi (O’Keefe) and 8-year-old Dawn (Bednarczyk), while his wife, Grace, serves as a sergeant in Iraq. When the shocking news of Grace’s death arrives, Stanley is desperate to delay telling the children and they embark on a spontaneous road trip to the Enchanted Gardens, grasping to give them their last moments of innocence.

U.S. RELEASE: December 7 2007, Limited
• Rated: PG-13

THE COMMENTS:

JAMES C STROUSE:
”I was watching a news story about the war in Iraq that featured parents of soldiers who had been killed, and it struck me; what would happen to your belief system if you lost a loved one to the cause? And I realized a story told from this perspective could be both timely and important for a lot of people.”

JOHN CUSACK:
“I met somebody who was in the exact position Stanley was in except he had three daughters, not two, and how his life was changed forever from that knocked on the front door. I got the tone [of my performance] from him, just asking physical questions which are consistent with grief, which is you don’t have any equilibrium. There’s something happening to you and it has its own time clock, and it doesn’t really matter what you do. It’s going to have its own life and you’re the last person on earth who’s in control of it.”

STROUSE:
“The two kids in the movie had never made a film before, they were just naturally talented. The first tape the casting agency sent me had Grace and Shelan, and they were standouts from the very beginning. We brought them in to read with John and that really cinched it, because John told me afterwards, ‘I never felt such chemistry with another actor.’”

CUSACK:
“They were the two faces and spirits that you would least want to lie to on the face of the earth. They’re very soulful and talented.”

SHELAN O’KEEFE:
“John is very nice and is a good actor. When we first met he just seemed like a regular guy, so any nervousness we were feeling, which wasn’t very much because we didn’t know who he was, disappeared.”

GRACIE BEDNARCZYK:
“The auditions were really long so Shelan and I got to know each other and then it felt like we were sisters during the movie.”

CUSACK on the pro-military beliefs of his character:
“I had to put my money were my mouth is in a sense where I had to really not judge or look down on the character, but try to get inside his shoes and really try to understand his point-of-view, and it was great because I had much more compassion towards the people who ideologically I disagree with.”

O’KEEFE on the scene at the beach where she and her sister are told of their mother’s death:
“It was easy to cry at first but after eight takes of pouring my heart out, thinking of loved ones that I had lost, and imagining scenarios of losing people in my family now, [it was difficult]. Another thing I was thinking of was the thousands of children who live their lives in fear of losing someone they love, or have already lost someone they love, and it’s just awful because it’s unnecessary.”

CUSACK:
“Because I have compassion for the Stanleys of the world doesn’t mean I would support an ultra-authoritarian administration that wants to open up new markets using the US military and Blackwater. But you can be pro-military and anti-war.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Images above © The Weinstein Company
Feature © 2007 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #691, January 2008 cover

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