by Jason Whyte
I don't know about you, but I certainly do not tire of quirky British comedies. Being a Canadian who lives in a country dense with humour (you won't ever see me program my VCR for repeats of "Royal Canadian Air Farce" or the "Yuk Yuk's Comedy Tour"), I look to other countries for my laughs. And most countries do well, but the UK has a special place in my heart. Their comedy is more character driven, with dialogue and human schtick to provide the humour. Monty Python, Mr. Bean, "Whose Line Is It Anyway," "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and many others, are proof of this.But I'm getting off topic. "Saving Grace" has its place among those enjoyable Brit-fare. It is one of these kinds of films, set in a seaside English town, where everyone knows each other by name or profession. Even if you are a sweet middle-aged lady who comes across hemp and decides to mass-produce it for major profits.
"Brenda and Mary Jane: An explosive duo."
And the film is for anyone who is a fan of Brenda Blethyn. Even in her 50's, she is still a commanding face in the UK, a bright and hilarious actress who seems so at ease in films like this (see "Secrets & Lies," one of the best films ever made about family dysfunction). After her character, Grace, is widowed, it is discovered that her husband had bad investments and her mansion house will be foreclosed on. "300,000 pounds, approximately," she is told. Grace turns to her gardener (Craig Ferguson), who is low on money and is trying to grow hemp plants. Keeping them in low light in the bushes certainly won't do the trick. Grace takes the plant and before she knows it, they are growing the plants hypodermically (using strong electric light and water to grow the plants), and Grace is off to London to sell the marijuana to save her house from foreclosure.
Some truly funny moments in this film include the lights that come from the house (so bright in fact, that the townsfolk sit out in patio chairs and watch them, which looks like a nuclear blast light from their perspective), and Grace's horrors of trying to be a seller in the seedy parts of London. Wearing dapper clothing isn't the best way to go in this situation.This is not a perfect movie, and although this could arguably be called another entry in the so called "Brit Comedy Series" (which includes "The Full Monty," "Calendar Girls", "Waking Ned Devine," "The Closer You Get" and even "Notting Hill," among many others), the fact that it is is one of the charms. The movie is not trying to make a bold statement about drug use, but is instead laughing along with the situation. Even if i've seen a lot of elements from these kinds of film before, it still works because of great actors like Blethyn, and it is what it is.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4372&reviewer=350
originally posted: 04/08/04 17:31:33