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cold funny. [Rated R for drug content and language.
Another death in a small British town story, complete with a Steve Harley song in the soundtrack, is Saving Grace. This film, which proves that "intelligent dope humor" is not an oxymoron, is co-scripted by star Craig Ferguson of the Drew Carey Show, who did a similar turn on The Big Tease earlier in the year. This one is much funnier and allows us Yanks to see a much lighter side of twice Oscar nominated actress Brenda Blethyn. It also maintains a streak of small Brit films that, like Waking Ned Devine and The Full Monty, are gangbusters comedy and sweet as fine chocolate.
The talk in the town of Cornwall is that Grace Trevathan's husband was looking for the loo when he stepped out the door of a plane and plummeted ten thousand feet or so to his death. It matters not to Grace (Blethyn), who has spent the last thirty or so years in her greenhouse, cultivating hybrid flowers. After hubby shuffles off, the dear widow discovers that her old man had mortgaged the house and all their assets up the wazoo, leaving her half a million dollars (give or take) in debt. With a minimum monthly nut of £2000 to meet -- and we haven't even gotten to what the greedy banker in London wants -- this poor woman, who's never worked a day in her life finds herself involving her gardener Matthew (Ferguson), who also has never worked a day in his life, in a very illegal scheme.
Y'see, Matthew has a small stash of hemp plants out behind the local RC church which provides a poor quality smoke for the local bartender and doctor and friends. But winter is coming in and his plants are getting sick and he asks the best plant person he knows, Grace, for help. Grace recognizes the plants. She knows they are illegal, but the beating horticulturist heart within allows her to take one and only one plant from its resting place, and save it in the quiet of her greenhouse. There, the weed grows like gangbusters. Quite innocently, Grace asks Matthew how much the plant is worth? "It's like gold" he says, and a plan sprouts in Grace's head. Grace rescues the remainder of Matthew's hidden stock and sets to work breeding new sprouts in a hydroponic garden. That takes an enormous amount of capital, specifically, hours and hours of the brightest light, which illuminates the countryside for miles around. The entire town sees the lightshow. They set their clocks by it and the local constable seems blissfully ignorant. The plants which Grace has cultivated, when all is said and done, would win raves from anyone who has ever had any exposure to raw buds on a stick. High Times magazine could do a cover story.
Two things to emphasize here: Grace is not a dopehead. She doesn't have anything to do with the stuff until she insists on a sample so that she could know what this pernicious weed is doing to people. Second, Grace doesn't want anyone taking a fall for her illegal actions, so she packs up a couple of sticks and heads for London's sleazy market district on Portobello Road, leaving Matthew far behind. She sticks out like a sore thumb and is rescued from certain doom by her late husband's mistress. There's little anger between the two ladies, though one has connections the other doesn't. Then, in slam bang fashion, a street hippie is praying to his God after two tokes on a sample, a connection is made with a sleazy underworld type Dealer (Tcheky Karyo), and a breakneck chase is on as Grace heads back up to Cornwall to fulfill her part of the bargain. Following her is a lackey of the Dealer and the hippie. Following them are the local cops. And waiting at her home is the banker, ready to seize the estate.
Wrapping it all off is a surprising, and totally legal, pair of sequences which have to be seen to be believed. So see it already.
Blethyn's Grace may be sweet and a bit naive, but she's got gumption. Ferguson's Matthew is a perfect example of a lackadaisical man who must face up to his responsibilities as a life partner to Nicky (Valerie Edmond), a woman who can gut a mackerel in ten seconds flat and the mother of his forthcoming child -- he doesn't know about that, which adds a nice layer to the story.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Saving Grace, he would have paid...
An absolute delight.
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