Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Their Grace

Author(s): Maia
Location: CA

"Their Grace"

Directed by Deepa Mehta
Adapted by Deepa Mehta from the novel “Amish Grace”
Original Music by Mychael Danna

Main Cast

Michelle Williams as Christina Webber
Frances McDormand as Mary Schroeder
Frank Langella as Pastor Jeremiah Anderson
Bridget Moynahan as Karen Roberts
Timothy Olyphant as Charles Roberts
Cybill Shepherd as Veronica Henson

Tagline: "What happens when forgiveness transcends tragedy?"

Synopsis: When the school-shooting of five children in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Amish country becomes national news, a frustrated TV reporter is sent to cover the tragedy only to discover the extraordinary forgiveness demonstrated by the Amish to the murderer’s wife and the shocking disapproval coming from the outside world:

‘The devil took control of him,” Jeremiah Jackson (Langella), pastor and leader of the Amish farmer’s town Nickel Mines; told skeptical Washington reporter Christina Webber (Williams). For Webber, an unstable field reporter with a heavy nicotine-dependence; her weekend-long stay to cover the murders by local milkman Charles Roberts (Olyphant) had turned into something she never expected. When the children died and the gunman was sentenced to life in prison, the Amish led by Pastor Anderson and Mary Schroeder (MacDormand), the outspoken matriarch devastated by her two children’s death, decided to aid Roberts’ wife (Moynahan) and defend her from the public attacks. Webber discovered many locals couldn’t understand, as explained by Schroeder, “the Amish concept of forgiveness as an unmerited gift".

A local politician, Veronica Henson (Shepherd), criticized the Amish for their naive and hypocritical behavior. “Don’t they shun members of their community for much less?,” Henson told Webber during her latest live broadcast.

As Christina struggles to find a righteous balance between the Amish’s firm beliefs and the outside world’s response to them, she finds herself uplifted and motivated for the first time in many years. Can this broken soul find healing through the Amish’s mercy? Through their compassion? Through their grace?

What the Press would say:

What is forgiveness? That's the main questions asked by spiritual director Deepa Mehta in her compassionate drama “Their Grace,” a deep story of faith and self-reflection that has quickly turned into a hot topic of debate everywhere. The film begins with a powerful sequence that cuts between the devastating account of the Nickel Mines murders and the destructive lifestyle of low-level TV reporter Christina Webber (a splendid Michelle Williams). It then follows this outsider as she enters the Amish country and unwillingly, at first, ends up becoming a member of this small community.

Michelle Williams excels as the TV reporter learning to fight her inner demons. The role demands her to go to very dark places within herself and to explore sides of human nature we barely recognize in ourselves anymore. She makes her character empathetic, despite all her evident flaws, and above all things: she makes us part of her journey through to maturity and self-acceptance. Don't be surprised if this former Oscar nominee returns to the Kodak later this year. As the strong Amish matriarch showing unbelievable forgiveness to her children's murderer, Frances McDormand commands the screen as the acting goddess she is; she moves us to tears as she makes us understand the Amish point of view; and at the same time, she makes us witness her personal struggle to cope with her loss and to accept God's will.

Cybill Shepherd returns to the big screen as a powerful personality that can be liked or not, depending where the viewer stands. Shepherd truly understands her character represents the pragmatism of the outside world and she embodies those elements to make her Veronica Henson someone we can all recognize and even, respect. Frank Langella brings a more sensitive, comforting performance as the community's righteous leader and the subject of many attacks (coming from Shepherd's vicious character) and as a whole, the ensemble shines because Mehta understands that a story about religion cannot be one-sided and she makes sure the viewers never feel preached or pressured to choose one point of view over the other by showing different characters with different interpretations of faith and forgiveness.

Beyond tragedy, beyond religion, beyond all debates; “Their Grace” is a dramatic masterpiece that shows our capacity to learn more about our nature and purpose and at the very core, it is a life-affirming lesson in how to live itself is a marvel… a marvel of grace.

Consider "Their Grace" for these awards:

Best Picture (Drama)
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Actress - Williams
Best Supporting Actress - McDormand, Shepherd
Best Supporting Actor - Langella

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