Looking For Grace follows the events of what happens when teenager Grace (Odessa Young) decides to run away with her best friend, Sappho (Kenya Pearson) to see their favourite band perform. This causes a massive amount of stress for Grace’s parents, Dan (Richard Roxburgh) and Denise (Radha Mitchell), especially when they realise that their young daughter has also stolen a large amount of cash from them. Worried where their daughter might be they hire a private investigator named Tom (Terry Norris) who is experienced in finding missing teens.
However, the young girls soon realise that ‘running away’ has more pitfalls then they expected it would have and the events that surround the family during this time are sure to affect them for a lot longer than Grace ever expected they would.
Writer/director Sue Brooks has brought the cinematic world some of the most interesting and poignant movies to ever come out of Australia. Films like Road To Nhill and Japanese Story stay with audiences a long time after they have watched the film. The sad thing about Brooks’ award-winning career though is the fact that we have to wait so long between each of her films, this time fans have had to wait six years since her last film to finally sit down and watch her latest offering Looking For Grace.
Fans of Sue Brooks’ work are guaranteed to get a pretty big surprise with the way that Looking For Grace is presented. Yes the film goes into the normal deep and sometimes dark aspect of human life that Brooks is known to explore but this time around she has opted for a fractured style in a bid to tell the story a little differently. And sadly that style of alternative filmmaking doesn’t work fully for this film.
Not only is the story is fractured but for some reason Brooks chooses to fracture the style of storytelling as well as the actual story itself. The first piece to the puzzle opens with Grace and Sappho on the bus and there is a distinct feel of films such as Galore and Blessed around the way the film feels. It dark, foreboding and suspenseful as you realise that something is going to happen, but then that feeling disappears completely during a latter piece of the puzzle when all of sudden it feels like the film is going for a dark comedy feel. Rather than adding to the film it’s jarring and becomes a little distracting. And while not giving away too much of a spoiler there seems to be no reason for the segment told from the truck driver’s point of view either.
Still the one thing you are guaranteed from a Sue Brooks film is brilliantly written drama and Looking For Grace does provide that by the bucketful. As I previously mentioned the first segment of the film works remarkable well and really raises the suspense, while Brooks’ power as a writer comes to the fore in a brilliant scene between Dan and Sandra (Tasma Walton) where the two are in a motel room contemplating whether or not they can take the physical step in having an affair. The dialogue is spot on while the dramatic tension allows for both Roxburgh and Walton to deliver their A-Game.
In fact Brooks’ script allows for some great acting throughout the film. Young up-and-comer Odessa Young continues to show why it is only a matter of time before Hollywood comes calling and scoops her up for roles. She puts in a performance her that is well and truly above both her age and experience and is never over-whelmed even when sharing scenes with the likes of the experienced Richard Roxburgh.
Also stepping up here is Radha Mitchell. Often the forgotten woman behind the likes of Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts Mitchell has made a few Hollywood appearances over the years in films like Silent Hill and Pitch Black but here Mitchell faces perhaps one of her most challenging screen roles. The scenes depicting the black comedy feature her heavily and as a result Mitchell finds herself sometimes having to depict scenes of complete anguish over her daughter being missing, fury at her husband and then pull it all back to deliver one or two of black comedy dialogue. Not easy to do but Mitchell does it well here.
Looking For Grace is one of those films that leaves you a little frustrated. While it does have its great moments that remind you what a sensational film maker Sue Brooks is the fractured style of storytelling is at times clumsy and jars badly. Still well worth a look if you are a fan of good Australian dramatic cinema.
Director: Sue Brooks
Starring: Richard Roxburgh, Radha Mitchell, Odessa Young, Terry Norris
Running Time: 100 mins
Release Date: TBA