A Fall From Grace (2020)
Where do I even begin?
A Fall From Grace centres around a woman named Grace (Crystal Fox) who has been imprisoned for murdering her husband, Shannon (Mehcad Brooks). Jasmine (Bresha Webb) is the public defender assigned to her case. But really, it's not even a case. Grace has confessed and Jasmine is basically selected to get the plea deal signed and lodged with the district attorney's office. Of course, once Jasmine meets Grace and they begin talking, Jasmine wants to go rogue and fight for Grace's innocence...because things just aren't what they seem...
I tried to make that seem interesting, exciting and mysterious, but the truth about this film is that the first hour and forty minutes is long, and slow, and somewhat tedious. And then the last twenty minutes can only be described as totally bizarre.
Grace obviously tells her story to Jasmine over a number of separate visits to the prison. At first, Jasmine is there to do lawyer things, but eventually Grace starts talking and Jasmine forgets all about the important lawyer things. As Grace tells her story, viewers are treated to a series of flashbacks. Sometimes these play out as scenes, where we see snippets of Grace and Shannon's relationship unfold, and other times these flashbacks can only be described as love montages, with prison-Grace's narration coming in over the top. I'm a sucker for a flashback. I truly am. A good flashback can make a bad movie or television show seem good in my eyes. It's embarrassing but true. Films like Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002) and Drop Dead Fred (1991) are in my DVD shelves, partially for using this technique, along with television shows like Forever (2014), The Handmaid's Tale (2017- ) and How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014), which is arguably nine seasons of flashbacks. The flashbacks don't make these shows great, but they sure keep me invested and interested and excited. Hell, I'm fairly certain the flashbacks are what put the first season of The Vampire Diaries (2009- ) on my shelf...which is totally humiliating to admit...but a worthy piece of evidence all the same. The point is, a good flashback will seduce me into thinking something is good. The flashbacks in this movie though, are boring. I have no idea why. I'm baffled. How do you make a flashback boring? Tyler Perry managed it in A Fall From Grace. And can I say, a lot of the first hour and ten minutes is flashbacks. It's tedious to even think about, and I have low flashback standards (refer to the fact that I own The Vampire Diaries). To Perry's credit, there was one moment within a flashback scene that I was entertained: the diner. None of the extras talk to each other or eat anything in this scene. Some of the extras don't even look at the person they sit across from. Often it looks like they are holding a decorative fork and watching the protagonists. I was entertained by this...I definitely wasn't meant to be though.
Alright, I'll lay off the extras. But there's no doubt that their pretending to drink water and eat food, is more entertaining than whatever Grace and Shannon are discussing.
A second reason why I was more attracted to the background of shots, is because the dialogue is often clunky and repetitive. For example:
Jasmine: What could I be missing?
Tilsa: Okay, like she said, okay what could she be missing?
Tilsa: But, you have a great relationship with the D.A., right? So, maybe that's in her best interests.
Jasmine: Great. I have a great relationship with the D.A. That's awesome.
By the by, when I first heard this, I assumed that she was having a juicy affair, or that the D.A. was her ex, or that they were best friends from high school or that this relationship would be used at some point...but nothing came of these lines. Or maybe I just wasn't paying enough attention. Maybe it was a non-verbal communication kind of "great relationship". I don't know...Maybe A Fall From Grace 2 will be a series of flashbacks exploring the apparent great relationship between Jasmine and the D.A..
Obviously, the more that Jasmine listens to Grace, the more she doesn't want to hand in a plea deal for her. Instead, Jasmine wants to fight Grace's case, because it becomes apparent that Grace is more of a victim than a villain. Now I won't go into all of the villainous details, but there's more than a few hints in Grace's flashbacks that Shannon is a little bit of a shady character. This is evidenced through some of the things that he says and does, and through Grace's narration when she points out, "he was not into the church scene" #alarmbells. Essentially, for the most part, the fact that Shannon isn't the nicest human being in the world - which is meant to be a twist - is alluded to several times before the actual reveal. You literally spend the first fifty minutes going, "Come on already! I get it, he's bad, just tell me what he did other than refusing to sing at church".
Before I wrote this interview, I did read that this film was shot in five days. A two hour film, in five days, sounds like nothing short of a nightmare to me. In a way though, credit where credit is due; that would have been no mean feat. The cinematography kind of shows this short timeline though. Everything is fairly simple, but when Perry wants you to notice something, BAM! Close up shot. Grace is in prison? BAM! Close up shot of her hands in cuffs. Final day of the trial, and Sarah (Grace's friend) is seen wearing the dead husband's necklace? BAM! Close up shot of necklace. It turns out Sarah is actually Shannon's mother? BAM! Close up shot of Sarah and Shannon's hands gently brushing as she walks by him... Is it just me or does it seem like Sarah is more of Shannon's lover than mother? Who knows...but what I do know, is that if Perry wants the audience to notice something, we see it up close.
Finally, there are some straight up "WTF moments" in this film. I will outline my favourite for you here, but you'll need to watch A Fall From Grace to experience the rest for yourself. At one point (towards the end), someone tells Jasmine their address and this is a key piece to the A Fall From Grace puzzle. As Jasmine puts the piece in place, she flashes back to where she's heard that address before. Bizarrely though, she flashes back, to one of Grace's memories...So she experiences a flashback to someone else's flashback... And all of a sudden, I'm remembering all the times when my four-year-old brother had a dream about the two of us, and would say, "Remember in my dream, when...?" Obviously, this script was written using four-year-old-brother dream logic. Anyway, there you have it, the "WTF Moment of the Week". Really, I should be calling it an Inconceivable! moment, but I don't want to associate Inconceivable! Reviews with such nonsense.
Do I recommend this film? I haven't really outlined what occurred in the last twenty minutes... I recommend the last twenty minutes. It's completely bizarre and totally ridiculous. However, you kind of need to watch the other hour and forty minutes to get the context for the last twenty. I don't know if it's worth it, all things considered. I guess if you're really stretched for something to watch, it may be an okay "multi-tasking watch". I dare say though, that if I had more new releases to review for you, it would be a hard no from me.