A widow enters the drug trade to save her home. [ Saving Grace credits: Dir: Nigel Cole/ Brenda Blethyn, Craig Ferguson, Martin Clunes/ 94min/ Comedy/ Legalize Drugs]
This film is very much in the tradition of the old, light-hearted British adventure stories about large-scale smuggling enterprises in small coastal seatowns. In such stories, townspeople flout the law with respect to tariffs in order to benefit themselves and their community. Here, however, it’s not tariffs but the ban on pot that gets flouted.
At the center of this story is Grace, a middle-aged housewife. It would be hard to imagine a more unlikely drug dealer. Nonetheless, when her husband unexpectedly dies bankrupt, leaving her destitute and about to lose her cherished home, she becomes so desperate for money that she’ll do anything—even sell marijuana. Her drug-dealing adventure begins when her handyman, a casual marijuana smoker, discretely asks for her expert gardening advice to revive his sickly pot plants. She’s so good at it, the two are soon growing kilos of the stuff. The question is, will they be caught before she can sell enough pot to save her home?
That’s a serious matter, but the viewer never really feels the danger as the tone of this film is decidedly comic throughout. The source of much of the humor is Grace’s naiveté. Imagine your mother trying to grow and sell pot, and you have a pretty good idea what’s funny here. Another comic aspect of the story is that the entire town is in on the secret of Grace’s enterprise and tacitly cheers her on. Indeed, the ban on pot has little or no public support. It’s treated as nothing more than a legislative mistake that will one day be rectified, like Prohibition.
Saving Grace is light entertainment with an unlikely but happy ending. Good use is made of gloriously picturesque Irish scenery. Needless to say, the attitude of this film toward marijuana illegality is every drug warrior’s worst nightmare. All the more reason to see it. Saving Grace won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.