[image-4]Published June 05, 2008.
Grace is Gone
Directed by When Stanley (John Cusack) loses his wife Grace in the Iraq War, he's left with more to deal with than his own sadness. Unable to break the news to his daughters (Shélan O'Keefe, Gracie Bednarczyk), Stanley instead proposes the world's most poorly planned road trip---a trek to a faraway amusement park, born from desperation and denial. Grace's death also happens at a time when people have begun questioning the Iraq War's necessity. Asked about the controversy by his eldest daughter, former army man Stanley can only offer her once-meaningful platitudes: "Sometimes you just got to trust that you're doing the right thing," he says. "Well, what if you can't?" she asks. "Then we're all lost," Stanley replies, hopelessly. Ultimately, Grace is Gone is a movie about grief, not a political treatise. But any film using the Iraq War as a backdrop takes on its volatile political history, too, and writer/director James C. Strouse has chosen to address this baggage in an interesting, rewarding way. The film, buoyed by strong performances from its three leads, is by no means prowar, but through it Strouse shows compassion to those who were, back in a simpler-seeming time---people whose biggest crime was assuming the war they were supporting had purpose.