Saving Grace

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

There is a whiff of Whisky Galore about Craig Ferguson's follow up to The Big Tease, except this time the happy substance is horticultural, rather than distilled.

The Brits are particularly good at nice people being naughty. They are less good at nasty people being nice, which may explain Tcheky Karyo's inability to make a dangerous dope dealer anything but a pussy cat.

The middle-classes, bless 'em, hide a multitude of sins behind their privet hedges. When Grace's husband pops his clogs and she discovers that his business affairs are a catalogue of failure, leaving debts of stomach draining proportions, she doesn't mainline Valium, or collapse in a heap. She retires to the greenhouse.

Essential ingredient No 2, after quixotic character roles, is the village. This one's in Cornwall, where everyone from the vicar (Leslie Phillips) to the local bobby (Ken Campbell) understands the value of sticking together against the insidious advance of progress, or people they don't know. Grace's gardener (Ferguson) is an easygoing Scotsman, with a practical girlfriend (Valerie Edmond) and little ambition beyond cultivating a few miserable marijuana plants under a bush at the vicarage. The GP (Martin Clunes) shares his pleasure in the weed and is probably even further off the planet.

Grace may have faults, such as a Seventies mail order dress sense, but her fingers are green and, with a little help from her friends, is quickly at work cultivating a cash crop of high quality magic.

Brenda Blethyn (Secrets & Lies, Little Voice) has become a national treasure. She positively blooms as Grace. The film would wilt without her, as credulity is stretched beyond the joke and there is no real tension. In spite of its charm, Ferguson's script suffers from a crisis of conviction, leading to the tamest of endings. Compared to Waking Ned, the film falls short. The supporting cast doesn't have what it takes to get high enough.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Saving Grace packshot
A widow in debt finds a way to make grass - of a less than legal kind - grow greener.
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Director: Nigel Cole

Writer: Craig Ferguson, Mark Crowdy

Starring: Brenda Blethyn, Craig Ferguson, Martin Clunes, Tchéky Karyo, Jamie Foreman, Bill Bailey, Valerie Edmond, Tristan Sturrock, Clive Merrison, Leslie Phillips, Diana Quick

Year: 1999

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

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If you like this, try:

Waking Ned
Whisky Galore!