Wednesday, September 23, 2009

AN ANALYSIS OF THE WOMEN IN PAUL SOLET'S "GRACE"

Amongst the plethora of films that I've managed to get my grubby paws on the past couple of weeks, I've been given a huge bundle of films that were mediocre, boring, and downright embarrassing to admit I've seen. Yet, in every load of rough, there's a diamond...and Grace was gleaming more than the one thrown off the Titanic. This film was exploding with female subject matter to the point that you'd have to be convinced it was written by someone with a uterus. However, we're very very wrong. This film is brilliantly made by Paul Solet, and yes, Paul is NOT short for Pauline, who disturbingly dedicated the film for his mom. This film absolutely blew me away. Some may think the reason I was so moved was because it's a blood thirsty baby and a killing mother, however, I was more moved by the character development and relationships than anything.  It isn't often that a male visionary absolutely nails female characters, but Solet managed to do so with ease.   SPOILER ALERT: THERE ARE MILD SPOILERS.


First, I want to applaud Solet for showcasing a lesbian affair without making it some steamy, hot, sex scene. The couple is presented as if there is nothing strange, unusual, or "special case" about their relationship, which I greatly repsect Solet for doing. All too often when a gay or lesbian relationship is in a script, it becomes this huge spectacle. In Grace, this was not the case.  I also have to hand it to Solet for how the relationship wasn't just dropped in out of nowhere. The relationship became more prominent as the film went on, taking away any unnecessary "shock value." In the beginning when husband Michael and wife Madeline are having sex, she looks indifferent about the situation. At first I thought, "he's doing it wrong," but after the film picks up, you realize he was doing it right...she just doesn't swing that way. When mid-wife Patricia visits Madeline for the first time, you can tell the moment she walks in the door that she is in love with her. There was just an air about her and the way she carried herself in Madeline's presence. It was breathtaking. Not to mention there's a pretty nifty girl-girl-girl love triangle going on. Patricia's girlfriend is well aware of Madeline and Patricia's former flame and her jealousy towards her almost gets Madeline killed. You don't see that happen very often.

Madeline's mother-in-law Vivian is one of the creepiest characters I've ever seen in a film in a long while. I honestly will say that I've never fully thought about how a mother would cope with the loss of their son when their child is fully grown, but Vivian delivers one of the more unsettling reactions. The "breastfeeding sex scene" is by far the most skin-crawl worthy scene in the entire movie, and this is a film about a baby that feeds on its mother like a praying mantis. The act of breastfeeding is supposed to be a beautiful act of mother providing for baby, and Solet found a way to completely flip it on its head and show the great lengths that grieving mothers can go through in order to feel "like a mother" again.  Strangely, Vivian also has this unspeakable power to control all of the men in her life. She has full control over her husband, her son, and even her doctor, which makes me question the relationship between them. There's clearly an implied affair, but never shown to come to fruition.  Vivian is the epitome of every woman's ultimate nightmare of the meddling mother-in-law...to the nth power.

Of course, we can't talk about this film without touching on the relationship between Madeline, and her baby, Grace. The bond between mother and child is something that can never be explained, only experienced; and until we have that experience, we can never begin to even come close to understanding it. This movie asks us the question "how far does that bond go?" and this movie proves something we have speculated for centuries, there is no limit. A lesbian, vegan, mother who has obviously only begun a relationship with a man for the sheer fact to have a child, has begun murdering people to harvest their blood in order to feed her child. How's that for a bond? This woman is willing to inflict pain upon herself in order to keep her child alive. This relationship could have been campy and cheesy but you know something, it's not. It's real. The relationship between Madeline and Grace is admirable and has a closer resemblance to mother and child than almost any film I've seen in the past 5 years. I had a long talk with my own mother about the film and low and behold, she agreed she'd do the same.

This film is breathtaking, terrifying, disturbing, moving, and inspiring. How it does that all at the same time, I don't know; but Paul Solet does it, and he does it well.



4 comment(s):

B-Sol said...

As I wrote in my own review, my wife had the same exact reaction as your mom, in that she instantly responded in the affirmative when I asked if she'd be willing to do the same. She didn't even have to think about it.

Planet of Terror said...

Well done, sharing much of my own sentiments. I almost thought the characters themselves were far more disturbing than the blood sucking infant. In a way, you empathized with the situation at the end and were simultaneously disgusted by the people who surrounded Grace.

And did you get a sense that Patricia had some ulterior motive all along? By the film's end I got a sense that she and her gal pal where waiting for things to implode so that they could take over the care of Grace.

Jessica said...

I had to skip reading this post for now until I go watch Grace. I had completely forgotten I wanted to watch it. Thanks for the reminder and I am glad it got good reviews from you.

The Curious Cat said...

Wow - not heard of this film - it sounds mega strange but cool and can't wait to find out more! xxx

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