Salisbury Press

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Review: ‘Getting Grace’

Friday, April 6, 2018 by Paul Willistein in Focus

“Getting Grace” might very well be the first nationally-released feature movie to be filmed entirely in the Lehigh Valley.

Theatrically-released movies filmed on location or with scenes at one or more Lehigh Valley locations include: ”Glass” (set for 2019 release), “Heroes Of Dirt” (2015), “Bereavement” (2010), “InSearchOf” (2009), “Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen” (2008), “Signs” (2002), “Just For The Time Being” (2000), “The Florentine” (1997), “School Ties” (1992), “Hairspray” (1988), “The Molly Maguires” (1970), “Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows” (1968), “Executive Suite” (1954), “The Farmer Takes A Wife” (1935), and “His Prehistoric Past” (1914).

“Getting Grace” was filmed in totality in the Lehigh Valley.

That’s part of the fun in seeing “Getting Grace” on the big screen. The aerial cinematography especially well-represents Bethlehem, which looks like a New England town. You may recognize many familiar Bethlehem and Bethlehem area exteriors and interiors.

You also may recognize Bethlehem native Daniel Roebuck, “Getting Grace” star, director, co-screenwriter and one of the film’s producers. Roebuck plays Bill Jankowski, a dour, emotionally-stuck, sad-faced funeral director.

A young woman, Grace (Madelyn Dundon), diagnosed with cancer, shows up at the funeral home one day, filled with attitude and a morbid curiosity about her fate and that of her friend, Audrey (Alexa Mcfillin), who also has cancer.

Thrown into the mix in the screenplay co-written by Roebuck and Jeff Lewis (feature movie screenplay debut) are Marsha Dietlein as Grace’s mother, Venus, and Dana Ashbrook (“Twin Peaks”) as Ron, an illusionist entertainer, and rival to Jankowski for Venus’s affections.

At the center of “Getting Grace” is an extraordinary performance by Madelyn Dundon as Grace. Dundon, a Bethlehem Catholic High School graduate and West Virginia University theater major, in her theatrical-movie debut, has a riveting presence, and not only because her head is shaved. She’s able to project a rueful jocularity as refreshing as it is disarming.

Among those in supporting-roles are Duane Whitaker (minister), Diane Wagner (Mary), Richard Pryor Jr., Buster Roebuck, Rod Gilkeson, Danielle Notaro, and Wyatt Root.

Roebuck (with some 229 movie and TV acting credits, including “River’s Edge,” 1986; “The Fugitive,” 1993; and TV’s “The Man In The High Castle,” 2015-2016, “Lost,” 2005-2010, and “Matlock,” 1987-1995), in his theatrical movie directorial debut, creates a comfortable tone that, in less skilled hands, could have been mawkish. Instead, Roebuck treats the material with great sensitivity. The result is a thought-provoking movie that builds to an undeniable emotionally-moving conclusion.

“Getting Grace” posits that, among loved ones, it’s more than “‘til death do us part.” It’s more like “‘til death does our part.” That part, and those partings, are all in the way we handle the situation.

There’s a lot of life experienced in facing death, a passage we all must face, individually, and with family and friends. Hearing and playing those grace notes, as we glean an understanding of our own emotions in such tension-filled circumstances is what “Getting Grace” is all about.

“Getting Grace,” MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.) for thematic elements and some suggestive material; Genre: Drama; Run time: 1 hr., 52 min.; Distributed by Hannover House.

Credit Readers Anonymous: Lehigh Valley locations in “Getting Grace” include: Monocacy Park, Bethlehem; Sell-Herron Funeral Homes, Allentown, Bethlehem, The Moravian Book Shop, The Burnside Plantation, Pete’s Hot Dog Shop, all Bethlehem, and St. Luke’s University Hospital, Fountain Hill.

Box Office, March 30: “Ready Player One” was the virtual winner at the box office for the Easter weekend, $41.2 million, weekend; $53.2 million, since opening March 29, dragging “Tyler Perry’s Acrimony” (Not sure how that compares to everyone else’s acrimony.) to open way back at No. 2 with a less than vociferous $17 million, as “Black Panther” slinked down one spot to No. 23, with $11.2 million, $650.6 million (fifth largest domestic release to date), seven weeks; with “I Can Only Imagine” realistically dropping only one place to No. 4, with $10.7 million, $55.5 million (Roadside Attraction’s largest domestic release to date), three weeks, and “Pacific Rim: Uprising” took a deep dive down four places to No. 5, with $9.2 million, $45.6 million, two weeks.

6. “Sherlock Gnomes” snuck down two places, $7 million, $22.8 million, two weeks. 7. “Love, Simon” stayed in place, $4.8 million, $32.1 million, three weeks. 8. “Tomb Raider” spelunked three places, $4.7 million, $50.5 million, three weeks. 9. “A Wrinkle In Time” continued its disappearing act, down three places, $4.6 million, $83.2 million, four weeks. 10. “Paul, Apostle Of Christ,” gave up one spot, $3.5 million, $11.5 million, two weeks.

38. “Getting Grace” dropped five spots after being readjusted to opening at 33, with $19,088, and $139,361, two weeks, on only 15 screens, down from opening week’s 60 screens, for a March 30 weekend per-screen average of $1,273, which compares to the $1,686 per screen average of “Tomb Raider” on 2,788 screens.

Unreel, April 6:

“Blockers,” R: Kay Cannon directs John Cena, Leslie Mann, Kathryn Newton, and Ike Barinholtz in the comedy about parents and their children on prom night.

“A Quiet Place,” PG-13: John Krasinski directs Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds and himself in the Horror film about creatures that hunt by sense of sound.

“The Miracle Season,” PG: Sean McNamara directs Erin Moriarty, Helen Hunt, Tiera Skovbye, and William Hurt in the drama based on the true story about the death of a volleyball player, Caroline “Line” Found, who inspires a high school girls volleyball team.

“Chappaquiddick,” PG-13: John Curran directs Kate Mara, Clancy Brown, Olivia Thirlby, and Ed Helms in the History Drama about then Senator Ted Kennedy and a 1969 car accident on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., in which a campaign worker, Mary Jo Kopechne, died.

“Lean on Pete,” R: Andrew Haigh directs Travis Fimmel, Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny, and Steve Zahn in the drama about a teen and his summer job with a horse trainer who has an old racehorse named Lean on Pete.

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes