|Index||7 reviews in total|
This really is an exceptional, emotional and moving film.
'See Grace Fly', is probably one of the best, if not 'the' best films I've seen this year and definitely on my list of all time favorites. It's a thought provoking, emotional roller-coaster that deals with two very risky subjects, mental health and religion. In regards to the latter, the story focuses more on the issue of 'faith', as well as human relationships and the classic issues of life, death, sex and friendship.
The plot is loosely based on lead actress, Gina Chiarelli's experiences of her schizophrenic aunt, obviously an experience that touched Gina deeply because her portray of 'Grace' is absolutely driven. Paul McGillion is also stunning as 'Dominic', Grace's haunted missionary brother, torn between his love for his sister and running away from the anguish of knowing 'all the love in the world' can't help her.
Despite its low budget the movie is exceptionally well made. The use of hand held camera work adds to the grit and pace, polished smooth camera moves would have taken away some of that atmosphere. The lighting in a few scenes is sometimes stark, showing a little of its low budget, but it's a very tiny fault outweighed by excellent directing, editing and a wonderful score as well as superb acting all round from its leads and support cast.
There are a number of stunning sequences and what I can only describe as 'original' scenes, one of those being a sex scene. On the surface it's amusing and a little embarrassing. Look a little deeper and its very interesting that Dom (especially considering something alluded to from his childhood) is not only seeking comfort in sex, but comes (quite literally) to a revelation regarding his sisters ravings, questioning his own faith and beliefs.
They intermix those 'scenes' with Grace wrapping herself in her own misery and the torment of her mind. To me in their own way the siblings are both seeking comfort, Grace surrendering herself to her schizophrenic psychosis, slipping further into her unhinged religious ravings, while Dom does the complete opposite, closing out the disturbing confusion of his thoughts for the comfort of another's touch and the oblivion of sex.
It's just this film all over, quirky moments of dark sometimes farcical humour mixed with emotionally heart-wrenching drama. Dom's (Paul) confession in the bathroom to Kate (Jennifer Copping) is quite disturbing in its eluded to subject (although nothing is said blatantly). It stands out to me as one of Paul's best from the movie, let's just say the actor can cry very convincingly and put a lump in your throat and when it comes to this scene, his face and eyes portray Dom's torment as much, if not more then the dialogue. There is another scene in a playground, where Dom's seems to give in to the inevitable convictions of his sisters intentions to 'fly'. The line 'go to hell or go to 'heaven', just be free' is said with tangible emotion and his body language more then anything screams heartbreaking anguish and defeat.
I couldn't pick out a scene for Gina because this is without a doubt, one of the most driven, talented and stunning performances from any actress I have ever seen. She is utterly convincing as a schizophrenic women hanging by a thread to sanity in every single scene. Other favourite moments are the way Dom's memories of his and Grace's childhood are visualised; it's nothing exceptionally original but the way its done really works well and helps create a gut tightening and disturbing atmosphere.
I have to say though, one of the best aspects of this movie is you never quite know if what Grace is saying is the product of an unhinged mind clinging to religious beliefs almost like a drowning man to a piece of drift wood, or something more sinister. Oh and it has one of those endings that will...well that would be spoiling it wouldn't it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw 'See Grace Fly' when it opened in the theaters in Vancouver. I adore this movie. One reason that I like it, is because it takes two controversial themes and sticks them together. Religion and mental illness are portrayed in such a way that I did not feel the urge to yell at the screen. That is very hard to do. I'm not a religious person, and this is one of my favorite movies. The cast does an amazing job. Gina Chiarelli as Grace is phenomenal. Her emotional struggle that progresses through the movie is heart wrenching. Paul McGillion who plays Grace's brother, Dominic, also adds to the power of the movie. He plays the repressed missionary brother who is trying to come to terms with many different aspects of his life...his mother's death, his missing sister, his faith. 'See Grace Fly' is a wonderful movie that I recommend very highly.
I saw SEE GRACE FLY the Vancouver Film Festival, and I fell for it in a
It's written and Directed by Pete McCormack, produced by Paul Armstrong and stars a bevvy of Canada's best actors: Gina Chiarelli & Paul McGillion, Jennifer Copping, Ben Ratner, Tom Sholte and Meagen Leitch. And it's scored by the amazing Dennis Burke.
Like most people, I go to the movies to be entertained (Charlie's Angels, Old School, Bridget Jones Diary etc.) or moved (Lost in Translation, Mystic River etc.)
SEE GRACE FLY fell into the latter category. It's a simple story about a delusional woman (Gina Chiarelli) and her brother (Paul McGillion) who is seduced by her delusions - because it's the only way to love her.
I have never, ever, been so moved by a film as I was by this one. It just got me right in the gut. Check out the roof top scene: "I got your message".
If Gina Chiarelli is not the best actor in Canada, I don't know who is. If she doesn't get a Genie nomination for this role (Canada's Oscars) I will mount a campaign of shame and humiliation against the academy. Seriously, I will raise an almighty stink. But I'm not too worried. No-one could fail to see the piercing beauty of this performance.
Tom Sholte is also great as the complicated, warm-hearted priest. He is one of those centered, unfussy actors who does his work so quietly and clearly, and with such subtle precision, that I fear he will never get his due.
See Grace Fly rocks.
I agree that this movie is fantastic. For 2 reasons in particular...
1.My brother suffers from Schizophrenia and some of the scenes really
rang true for me. 2. I grew up on the Sunshine Coast and competed
against Jennifer Copping in several festivals, etc (of course, she
always beat me ;)!!) and she has always been extremely talented. I was
thrilled to see her shine as Kate. She drew me in to her character's
dilemma so well that I felt her turmoil. I can't wait to see her in
Slither! I believe it won't be long before the rest of the world
recognizes her talent! GOOD ON YOU, JENNIFER!!
(the Middleton family!!)
Gina Chiarelli, as Grace McKinley, gives one of the most stunning performances you are likely to see. John Griffen, the critic from the Montreal Gazette, said that her performance was "the reason awards were invented". I wholeheartedly agree. It's an excellent film all around. Kudos to the first time director, Pete McCormack, and to the supporting cast. Although I understand the film was made on an extremely low budget, apparently around $100,000 Canadian, and was shot with a digital camera, it looks polished and well thought out. Even so, it all comes down to the script, which treats the terrible malady we call schizophrenia with an authenticity beyond what I have seen in other films ( I do include A Beautiful Mind in that assessment) and Gina Chiarelli's tour de force performance.
Gina Chiarelli shines in a stunning performance as Grace, a schizophrenic woman who believes the second coming of Christ is imminent. Also strong performances from Tom Scholte, Paul McGillion and Jennifer Copping.
I was disappointed. I knew nothing of the film before I saw it, and I
really did hope for something enjoyable, enlightening, what have you...
but I was disappointed.
I know it was made on a low budget, but the hand-held camera-work (which seems typical of many Vancouver productions) just seemed lazy. Many films were made on miniscule budgets, but it doesn't mean that planning and thought can't go into the storyboard and shooting script. Think, El Mariachi, Do The Right Thing; highly entertaining, well-planned, well-shot movies done on fairly low budgets.
That having been said, the opening sequence was nice.
But the cinematography left something to be desired. I don't know if the lack of lighting was intentional, but it just became frustrating. It just felt amateur and felt like a lot more thought could have gone into it. It has been said that the camera-work serves this story. Perhaps, but it doesn't neglect the fact that virtually zero artistry seems to have gone into the visual compositions.
But the story seemed unduly melodramatic. Some of the acting was alright, especially Grace, the lead, the priest, Jenn Copping and Ben Ratner, who is quite a cameleon when it comes to acting (see: Dirty). But other characters seemed wooden; unbelievable. It doesn't help that the story felt forced and unbelievable in itself.
The movie seemed lacking in entertainment value. The story wasn't very interesting, the underlying Christian values and the bits about Jennifer Copping becoming Christian due to Grace's rantings just seemed ridiculous. Especially because Copping's character seemed so thoughtful and level-headed, that for her to simply switch and buy into all of the religious ramblings from somebody suffering from schizophrenia seemed a bit absurd.
I think Canadian film-making has potential. This film, despite my dissing, also seems like it could have had potential. I'm always intrigued by the films that come out of Canada, even if many tend to have a strange, dark vibe. Some really great movies have come out of Canada, such as The Sweet Hereafter and I heard the Mermaids Singing, Cronenberg's films and so on, but in order to a film to reach the point of greatness, it really takes a lot of time and thought and working and reworking the script and story until it truly resonates. I understand the film was the result of five years work. That seems pretty hard to believe, considering the result, and I don't see how a product like this could emerge after five years of thinking and planning. It seems like more thought should and could have gone into storyboard, acting choices, and the quality of the script in that time.
A film can have personal relevance for those involved and come from a passionate engagement with the material, but those elements have to translate to the screen. The audience should come away feeling enlightened AND entertained, if the film has succeeded at all. Many many films have accomplished that. Not that it's an easy task, but it is possible.
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