Oh, how it pains me to write this review– I hate writing negative reviews. Just brace yourself, kids, because this is not going to be pretty.
Saving Grace B. Jones is a 1950s period piece that stars Tatum O’Neal as the titular Grace, a woman who returns home from a 20-year stay at a mental asylum. Grace spends the summer with her brother, Landy, and his family. Landy’s family lives in a small Missouri town that is hit by a torrential rainstorm of biblical proportions. Grace tries to adjust to her post-asylum life but is still clearly troubled. That’s pretty much all there is to say about the plot without giving any spoilers.
The film is billed as a “suspenseful thriller.” Let me tell you, there was literally not a single thrilling moment in this “thriller.” It could win an award for “Least Thrilling Thriller Ever Made.” The acting is atrocious, and I mean BAD. Have you seen the episode of Futurama where Dr. Zoidberg’s uncle makes a movie and tells all the extras to wave their arms around and throw pies at each other in the background of his political thriller? Those cartoon extras could probably out-act most of the cast. The glaring exception for me is the always brilliant Scott Wilson (The Walking Dead’s Hershel) who actually made me forget I was watching this shitshow for the brief few minutes he was on screen.
90% of the movie is shot in the pouring rain… which means the actors are shouting about half of their lines. I feel like calling it melodramatic is an understatement. Is there a word for melodramatic times ten? In the climax of the movie, Grace has some blood on her hands. Her ex’s new wife is pregnant AND GRACE DELIVERS THE BABY. IN THE RAIN. Literally!! Here’s an idea, let’s give the suicidal, histrionic, recently-released-from-the-madhouse-but-still-straight-up-crazy chick the opportunity to deliver a baby. Because that’s totally a great idea and a beautiful plot device, right?
And then I found out that the director, Connie Stevens, made this film when she was 70 years old, and it alllllllllll made sense. The over-the-top acting, the unbelievably cheesy soundtrack, the terrible child actors (who she probably found endearing because they reminded her of her grandkids)– it all makes sense when you know the director is an elderly woman. She also based this movie partially on her own experiences, so the cloyingly saccharine moments are probably due to her nostalgic reminiscences. Now I’m not saying older people have no place in cinema; I’m just saying an extremely melodramatic movie makes more sense when you know the director is elderly and based part of it on her own childhood. We tend to romanticize our past– even if it, ya know, involves witnessing a murder or two. (Don’t worry, the murder happens in the first five minutes of the movie, so if you’re still planning on watching this piss-poor production I didn’t spoil it for you.)
Don’t trust my word? It has a 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. SEVENTEEN PERCENT, Y’ALL. But if you want to check it out and witness the atrocity for yourself, you can watch Saving Grace B. Jones on DVD (for some reason, over five years after its release) beginning on May 27, 2014. But if you do, all I can say is good luck and Godspeed.
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