PG-13 for violence and thematic elements.
February 25, 2011 (Limited)
Michael Higgenbottom, Michael Joiner, Louis Gossett, Jr., Cindy Hodge, Joy Parmer Moore, Robert Erickson
David G. Evans
Samuel Goldwyn Films
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CHRISTIAN MOVIE REVIEW
The Grace Card
By Hannah Goodwyn
- Inspired by the pioneering work of Sherwood Pictures who brought us Facing the Giants and Fireproof, first-time director David Evans tests the waters with a new, Christian movie called The Grace Card.
Starring Oscar winner Louis Gossett, Jr., and newcomers Michael Joiner and Michael Higgenbottom, The Grace Card is played well. The developed characters are compelling and their redemption is inspiring. Similar to the model set by Kendrick brothers, The Grace Card is backed by a Memphis-area Nazarene congregation and released under Evan's GraceWorks Pictures. Though this is GraceWorks’ first production, its faith-heavy message and good entertainment value make it the best church/volunteer-driven movie produced thus far. If you liked Fireproof, you will love The Grace Card.
The Movie in a Minute
After the death of his oldest son, Mac McDonald’s life goes into a tailspin of bitterness and depression. For 17 years, Mac’s anger has torn his relationship with his wife and youngest son apart and destroyed any hope of faith in God. Unable to advance at the police department, Mac is immensely frustrated with his life. Things get worse when he's partnered with newly promoted Sam Wright, a loving family who doubles as a part-time preacher in their hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Both officers must look past their differences -- the color of their skin, their lifestyles, and beliefs -- for Mac to accept God and for Sam to forgive his partner’s racial hatred.
What Works -- and Doesn't -- in The Grace Card
The Grace Card tackles a gambit of issues, including past and present racial tensions in Memphis. But at its core, the film focuses on healing broken relationships between friends, husband-wife, and father-son. It’s a modern-day parable about a faithful man who must unconditionally love a hateful man. For Mac’s character, it’s a redemptive story of how grace can save the most lost of souls.
An eye doctor by profession, David Evans sat in the director's chair for this, his first movie. With a independent film budget, Evans relied on volunteers from Memphis churches for behind-the-scenes and on-camera support. His moving narrative was excellently written by Howard Klausner, who is best known for his script for the Clint Eastwood film, Space Cowboys. The award-winning talent of Louis Gossett, Jr. is featured in the role of Sam’s grandfather. He’s joined on-screen by Memphis’ own Michael Higgenbottom (Sam) and comedian/turned dramatic actor Michael Joiner (Mac). Most of the secondary actors are locals, including elementary school teacher Joy Parmer Moore as Mac’s wife, Sara, Cindy Hodge as family counselor, Dr. Vines, and Robert Erickson as Mac’s son, Blake. Former American Idol contestant Dawntoya Thomason plays Debra, Sam’s wife. The level of acting is not always up to par in The Grace Card, but the lead actors do deliver emotional energy when it truly counts.
The film quality is, on the whole, good, though it does have revealing moments. Its weaknesses show up in a few instances of so-so cinematography, sound quality, editing, and a couple of plot holes. Foreshadowing, though it is a necessary element in a film, should never be overdone. In the case of The Grace Card, it and other factors create a rather predictable plotline. A saving grace is its dialogue and character portrayal of forgiveness and racial reconciliation. The message of The Grace Card is an intense one, but it's not overbearing. Rated PG-13 for violence and thematic elements, The Grace Card is also fairly clean, with no sexual content or foul language. Moviegoers who are teen age and older will have no problem with the level of police violence or dramatic scenes.
In the End
Though The Grace Card isn’t going to win any Oscars next year, its raw, engaging story make it a must-see this weekend. Support for films such as this one show Hollywood execs that moviegoers want redemptive films at theaters. If these showings sell out, they will take notice, and hopefully, start distributing even more quality, faith-filled movies. So if you're in a city where The Grace Card is showing, get a ticket!
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Hannah Goodwyn is the Family and Entertainment producer for CBN.com. For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.
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