Grace Is Gone



Sad drama about loss may be too heavy for kids.
  • Review Date: May 27, 2008
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 85 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The characters are decent and well-intentioned, though the father seems distant at first and doesn't tell his daughters the truth about their mother as soon as he should. Nevertheless, he's a devoted family man at heart. Tween daughter Heidi acts out a couple of times, but it seems to be mostly in response to knowing something's wrong with her dad/their family.


News footage of the war in Iraq on TV screens; a man shoves his adult brother and forces him against a wall; a pervading sense of gloom hangs over the film.

Not applicable

Occasional uses of "s--t," "goddamn," "crap," and, very sparingly, "f--k."


Signage and mentions of HomeStore, the fictional "big box" home improvement store where Stan works, and Enchanted Gardens, the similarly made-up amusement park that Stan and his kids are planning to visit.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some talk of drinking, but little is seen onscreen. A tween girl tries a cigarette; her father then smokes with her, intending to turn her off the habit.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that kids and teens may have a hard time processing some of this somber indie drama's mature themes, notably war and the death of a parent. The characters swear on occasion, a 12-year-old girl smokes and acts out in other ways (though mostly fairly tamely), and a grown-up suffers a near-emotional breakdown. Nevertheless, the movie has a soft center, empathizing with the experiences of a father and his two daughters as they deal with the terror that comes with knowing their loved one is on the front lines.

What's the story?

GRACE IS GONE tells the story of father Stanley Phillips (John Cusack),who faces the heart-wrenching task of informing his two young daughters, Heidi (Shélan O'Keefe) and Dawn (Gracie Bednarczyk), that their soldier mother has been killed in Iraq. Winner of the Dramatic Audience Award at Sundance 2007, this film is a far cry from typical Hollywood war movies, where the battlefields take center stage. This time, those left behind are the ones whose experiences are in the spotlight.

Is it any good?


For the most part, director/screenwriter James C. Strouse manages to convey the family's grief in an admirably understated way, and Cusack is very believable as a father. That said, did Stanley have to be such a schlub? Everything from his facial expressions to his shuffling gait spells defeated -- so much so that viewers feel they're dragging, too.

The film starts clumsily, not quite finding its footing in the first half. Humorous early scenes, as when Stanley attends a support group for soldiers' wives, seem forced. But thank goodness for the children, who are clearly and genuinely talented. Soon after the film begins, you lose track of the fact that they're actors. Instead, your heart aches for them and the thought that they, real characters or not, won't grow up with their mother.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the media typically depicts war and its consequences. How is this film different from other movies about war? What are the experiences of families who go through this type of tragedy? Why do you think Stanley can't tell his daughters the truth right away? Also, what is the effect of never having Grace show up on camera? Is the film more or less effective for her absence?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 7, 2007
DVD release date:May 27, 2008
Cast:Gracie Bednarczyk, John Cusack, Shelan O'Keefe
Director:James C. Strouse
Studio:Plum Pictures
Run time:85 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:thematic material, brief strong language and teen smoking.

This review of Grace Is Gone was written by

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Learning ratings

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written bychristian-movie... August 29, 2009

Its great if you don't mind the language other than that you'll love it!

I liked this movie because of its story. It was very touching and sad.It has a scene where (john cusack) the dad finds his daughter smoking a cigarette. Latter he buys a box of them and then trys to make her not like them. 2 uses of f*ck, 1 of g**d*mn, close to 3 uses of h*ll, sh*t, and a few other milder slang words. No violence but very emotional and stirring.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bytheguitarist April 27, 2009


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