The new saviour of British film, Grace follows 'The Full Monty' to US success

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

British audiences may not have paid much attention to Saving Grace, the whimsical film comedy starring Brenda Blethyn about a respectable widow growing marijuana to pay off her husband's death duties. But in the United States it has become the latest quirky British film to strike it big at the box office - evidence that American audiences will lap up our supposedly quaint eccentricities even if they strike us as hackneyed and predictable.

British audiences may not have paid much attention to Saving Grace, the whimsical film comedy starring Brenda Blethyn about a respectable widow growing marijuana to pay off her husband's death duties. But in the United States it has become the latest quirky British film to strike it big at the box office - evidence that American audiences will lap up our supposedly quaint eccentricities even if they strike us as hackneyed and predictable.

Having opened strongly in a few big-city art houses a month ago, Saving Grace is now showing on 800 screens around the country and generating a kind of excitement sorely lacking from the pedestrian summer line-up of big-budget action adventures. So far, it has taken almost $4m (£2.8m) at the US box-office - far outstripping its British performance - and shows every sign of doubling or even tripling that figure.

In fact, it is showing signs of following a similar - if less spectacular - path to The Full Monty, another unambitious, low-budget comedy that became an international smash hit two years ago. It also follows the critical and modest box-office success of Mike Hodges' existential gambling movie Croupier, which sank without trace in Britain two years ago but has been hailed stateside as a minor masterpiece.

Enthusiasm for Saving Grace, directed by Nigel Cole, began at last January's Sundance film festival, where it won the audience award for best foreign film and earned $4m from Fine Line, which snapped up the US distribution rights. That initial push motivated a savvy marketing campaign that has overcome the mixed reviews.

While some US critics have been charmed by Saving Grace, others have concurred with their British counterparts and lambasted the film for poor comic timing and a blindingly obvious plotline. "Constipated English whimsy for the easily tickled," was the verdict of the Village Voice. Clearly, American audiences are easily tickled.

Comments