Reviewed byerin_gaffordVote: 9/10
John Cusack was excellent in this role. I saw a side of him that I never expected possible. His characters are usually intelligent and witty with sarcastic undertones, but this film shows a side of his versatility that has never surfaced before. He plays a father of two that is struggling to find a common ground. His military background leaves little commonality between himself and his daughters. The devastating loss of his wife, and the mother of his children force this character in a place that few have ever been. After an entire childhood of emotional absents, his children finally see the softer side of their father as he struggles to tell them of the untimely death of their mother. It was truly an emotional roller coaster.
Reviewed byWillemiteVote: 9/10
I found the film to be a very sensitive, low-key portrayal of a father having to learn to communicate with his children after his soldier wife is killed in Iraq. It is not political. Cusack's character is an uncritical believer in authority, while his opposite number is shown as an immature oppositionist, lacking grounding in the real world. In their political discussion, both make valid points but neither view is the focus of the film. This is a family tale, with the twist that it is a guy having to cope with losing a soldier spouse, not a woman. Coping here means telling his children that their mother is gone, and his struggle is not exactly new ground. Kramer vs Kramer is the obvious example of a father learning how to cope with fatherhood. Grace, however, shows a pretty decently coping Dad from the git-go. His struggle is more focused. Unable to bear telling his daughters the bad news, and unable to face it himself, he takes them on a fantasy trip to a Disneyworld stand-in, driving from Minnesota to Florida. As with most road trips this is a journey of discovery for him and particularly for his older, 12-year-old daughter. Ultimately, he finds the voice in which to speak the painful words. Cusack is masterful in his portrayal of the struggling widower. The young actresses playing his daughters are completely convincing. One thing that stands out is the minimalist Clint Eastwood score. It supports the sorrowful tale and seems almost to be trying to sooth the grieving father. This is not a cheery, feel good flick in which everyone goes home with a smile on, but it is a satisfying film that offers a realistic portrayal of regular people coping with a very harsh reality.
Reviewed byfruitjunkVote: 8/10
I get the feeling that people who do not like this movie wanted some large seen where John Cusack's character tells what he is thinking. I'm confused at this. If we wanted to watch movies where characters laid out their thoughts verbatim we wouldn't have an opportunity to infer our own emotions on the situation. I would have been upset if this filmed decided to tackle the issue of war instead of the issue of how modern loss can effect us. This is a film about being put on pause. When we are shaken out of our sense of normalcy how do we cope. In this case, how do you explain the loss you cannot comprehend to your children. I think that this film is powerful in it's absent of the affectation of the outside world. You have a man who insulates himself from the events and in that case you have something a lot more honest. If the film had chosen to attack those issues i think the depth of loss would have been shattered. This isn't an anti-war nor pro-war film. I think that if you go in expecting that you will dislike immensely. This is a film about normalcy and our failure to cope. I think it works. I think wanting it to do something it isn't trying to do is an incorrect way to view this film.
Stan Philipps's wife Grace is a sergeant with the U.S. Army. While she's posted to Iraq, the earnest Stan is home in Minnesota with their daughters, Heidi, 12, and Dawn, 8. He manages a home supply store. After morning visitors bring Stan news, he takes the girls for a car ride that turns into a spontaneous trip to Dawn's favorite place, a Florida amusement park. On the way, they stop at Stan's mother's house, where his brother is staying. Heidi is an insomniac, who tries to fathom her father's uncharacteristic behavior. Dawn is cheerfully unreflective. They have fun at the park. Stan summons his courage.