Looking for Grace – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

January 21, 2016 by Roz Tarszisz
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What do parents do when their teenage daughter disappears and they have no idea why or where she has gone?

If you have seen the trailer it is not a spoiler to say that the girl in question – Grace (Odessa Young) – is found. That’s not the point of this slice of Australian life, presented in a series of overlapping perspectives from the view of its main participants. It’s more about the ripple of after effects flowing from her disappearance.

We’re never sure why Grace took off leaving only a “sorry mum” note for Denise (Radha Mitchell) to find on the kitchen bench.  Her father, Dan (Richard Roxburgh), is surprised that he was not included on the note and shocked when he finds out Grace has cleared out his home safe of a substantial amount of cash.

The film opens with Grace and her friend Sappho (Kenyo Pearson) on a long distance bus ride. Where they came from and where they are going is not laid out.  They befriend an older boy, Jamie (Harry Richardson) on the bus and when he and Grace fancy each other, Sappho feels left out.

Police inquiries later discover that Grace and Sappho may have taken off from Perth towards Ceduna, South Australia for a concert.  It is a long drive through West Australia as Dan and Denise take off to look for her.

I expected to like this film.  It has a really good cast and is written and directed by Sue Brooks (Japanese Story) and while the writing and performances are excellent and ring true, its particular Australian sensibilities means it is reminiscent of other stories where ordinary lives are examined.

Terry Norris plays Tom, brought in by police to handhold the anguished parents. When they are on the road he cheerfully assures them that dental records will probably not be required for this case.  There is a lovely scene where he and Dan discuss the prospect of adultery.  Grace is played with equal quantities of arrogance and lost child and is a typical teenager – she is most ungracious about being found.

I like the device of telling the story from different viewpoints and how, as the story unfolds, we come to appreciate just how fragile life is at any age.

3.5/5 100mins Rated M Released January 26

Starring  Richard Roxburgh,  Radha Mitchell, Odessa Young

Directed and written by Sue Brooks

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