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By Eric Campos | March 1, 2005

Anthony Scarpa’s “Grace” depicts a family meltdown as a young mother, Gabby, struggles with terminal amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Struggling with his own personal issues, as well as major panic attacks, her brother, Jessie, stays by her side as much as possible during a time when her body is shutting down, her husband is reacting to the whole situation with anger and her little boy is becoming more confused and frightened over her sickly state. With the help of Jessie’s girlfriend, Gabby documents her remaining days in a diary, revealing the ever brave inner-thoughts of this terminally ill woman as her family collapses around her.

On the surface, “Grace” doesn’t tell a pretty story what with its realistic depiction of a family reacting to a crisis. So while you enjoy this tale of the search for inner-strength in times of despair, you’ll also have the discomfort of being kicked in the groin again and again – so much so that I think it dulls some of the harder hitting scenes, depriving them of their maximum impact. “Grace” drags its viewer through so many hard times, with many of the characters presenting their own tragic tales of woe, or committing an unsavory act, that by the film’s end you start going a little numb. It’s kind of like an episode of “Six Feet Under”, but without the quirkiness and random moments of hilarity. Fortunately the excellent cast provides an entertaining watch and doesn’t let one drown in all of the gloom.

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