REVIEW – For Grace – Cinequest

Perhaps I’m too enamored of a well-made documentary, but I find the contrived documentary a tired device when not done well. My general rule is if you’re going to break that 4th wall, it better be for a very specific and effective reason. It ought to be an imperative, consistent choice that assists in cultivating audience focus and not actively impeding it. For Grace is an earnest film with a unique story that unfortunately seems to get buried by an overly forced format and a too present camera.

While there are some lovely visual shots that allow us a peak at the intimacy we want more of and use of silences that speak volumes are rewarding, the dialogue feels improvised and hesitant instead of fresh and authentic, further muddling the journey and losing us along the way. While these characters are played by a compelling cast and I applaud the inclusion and resolution of the film, I just wish it had been put together with a more cohesive, compelling, and a more personally palatable frame.

I’m frustrated by this film because I genuinely like the message and arc of the film’s plot, but I feel the positives have to fight too hard to be seen and heard through the clunky meta style. The superficiality of the delivery undermines the momentum and impact the story could have. I kept being pulled out of the moment and wondering if this could have worked better as an actual documentary or a closed, straight dramatic narrative. My answer each time I asked came back with a resounding yes.

While I can award an E for effort and intent, I can’t be as supportive for execution I’m afraid.  A 3 out of 5 jewels in the review tiara for a good film caught in an awkward purgatory of genre. For Grace has 5 more Screenings at Cinequest.

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