Saving Grace

Saving Grace (2000)
New Line Home Entertainment
Cast: Brenda Blethyn, Craig Ferguson
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Theatrical Trailer, Filmograpphies

’Saving Grace’ falls firmly into the subgenre of British films, which are set in towns full of quirky characters, such as ’The Full Monty’ and ’Billy Elliot’. It opens with the entire town going to the home of Grace (Brenda Blethyn), for the funeral of her husband, who has died in a bizarre airplane incident. Soon after the funeral, Grace learns that her husband was deep in debt and owes the bank and other lenders a substantial amount of money. As a middle-aged housewife who has never worked, Grace is at a loss as to what she can do to raise the money. The only talent that she has is gardening. She turns to her handyman Matthew (Craig Ferguson of ’The Drew Carey Show’) for help and he gives her the idea of growing and selling marijuana in her greenhouse. Soon, this stately British lady is on her way to becoming the biggest dope dealer in Britain, while trying to keep the bank off of her back and the local constable out of her greenhouse. Of course, nothing goes as planned and the results are hilarious.

’Saving Grace’ is a wonderful little gem of a film that manages to maintain an ’art-house’ feel without becoming too outrageous. (Imagine ’Notting Hill’ meets ’Cheech and Chong’!) Blethyn is superb as Grace, giving a controlled, yet emotional performance. Craig Ferguson, who also co-wrote and co-produced the film, is hilarious as Matthew, as this role gives him a chance to shed his ’Mr. Wick’ persona. ’Saving Grace’ is a well-made, solid comedy for adults that is full of beautiful scenery and wonderful characters.

The New Line Home Video DVD of ’Saving Grace’ brings us a pristine transfer of the film. The movie is presented in an anamorphic widescreen and is letterboxed at 2.35:1. A cropped full-frame version of the movie is also included on the DVD. The image is crystal clear and very sharp, showing no noise or artifacting problems. Nor is there any overt grain or defects from the source print, creating a beautiful presentation.

The audio is a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel mix, which offers clear dialogue and does a wonderful job of presenting the lovely score by Mark Russell. The theatrical trailer for ’Saving Grace’ is on the DVD, and is letterboxed at 1.85:1. (Notice how the marijuana is optically censored in the trailer.) The DVD also contains filmographies for the cast and crew. The only flaw in this package comes with the audio commentaries. There are two commentaries on the DVD, the first featuring Blethyn, Ferguson and director Nigel Cole, and the second offering Cole, Ferguson, and co-writer Mark Crowdy. Despite this line-up, neither commentary is a group affair, but instead has quotes from the participants edited together. True, there is some good information on the commentaries, and Ferguson has some funny comments, but they come across as very dry and lack spontaneity. Other than that, ’Saving Grace’ comes highly recommended.