Thursday, September 17, 2015

TIFF 2015: Looking For Grace

Looking For Grace opens with gorgeous views along a highway in Western Australia that look as if they have been painted. It tells the story of Grace (Odessa Young, who shyly appeared before the film), a teenager who has stolen money from her parents and taken a bus trip with a friend to see a concert in a far-off town. We see the story in fragments from each of several perspectives, and for a while we're not very clear on exactly what is going on. The beautiful colour of the countryside is in contrast to the stark whiteness of the mother's home (and it's clearly the mother's choice of decorating), and the runaway has disturbed the mother only a little more than the couch that needs cleaning.

As the pieces fill in we learn about the relationships among Grace and her parents, and meet the police investigator assigned to the case. I think the vastness of the Australian landscape underscores the distances separating each of the three family members from each other. One of the audience questions pointed out that seeing Grace in different seats in the family car can be seen as representing her struggle with entering adulthood (now she's a child, now she's a woman), which director Sue Brooks thought was quite insightful.

The pace of the film matches that of a cross-country bus trip: some stretches of little action, with some poignant beauty throughout, and the occasional scene that grabs you suddenly.

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