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Saving Grace

World Premiere

  • 2010
  • 85 min
  • HD
  • English
Hosted by writer/director Chris Pickle


HorrorDramaCrime / Thriller

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Director: Chris Pickle
Screenplay: Chris Pickle, Filip Premrl
Cast: Mandy Bo, Jason Barbeck, Peter Coady
Producers: Chris Pickle
Print Source: Knockout Films

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North american Premiere
2010 | 14 min
English language



“And tumbleweeds have come to tear this town to shreds.”

This line from one of the film’s several lyrical songs is a good indication of SAVING GRACE’s poetic underbelly. The film is essentially a quiet, meditative two-person character study of a young, emotionally fragile woman, the titular Grace, and a gruff, taciturn janitor named Clayton. He first sees Grace as she is being admitted for a drug overdose at the hospital where he works. In a daring narrative ellipsis, Grace is unconscious in her hospital bed, and then wakes up to find herself in a makeshift hospital bed in the abandoned school basement where Clayton lives. Clayton tells Grace that the outside world has been devastated by a series of terrorist bombings that have made the air toxic and human survivors dangerously unpredictable and violent, the reason for which he forbids Grace from leaving her dank surroundings. He tells Grace that her imprisonment is for her own safety. He is Grace’s self-appointed guardian saviour. Or is he?

The genre of the woman-as-kidnapped-captive has a rich history, dating back to THE COLLECTOR (1965) and BOXING HELENA (2003), through recent Fantasia titles THE GIRL NEXT DOOR (2007) and DEADGIRL (2008). However, what sets SAVING GRACE apart from these is its interest in nurturing character ambiguity. How and why Grace is moved by Clayton from the hospital to his prison-like environment becomes not only the film’s central plot point but the pivot on which rests our understanding of conventional notions such as character intent and motivation, which viewers then use to help them decide whether a character is essentially “good” or “bad.” Such matters are left decidedly vague (hence the title’s double entendre). Is Clayton telling the truth? All Grace has to go on is what Clayton tells her and what little bits of information she gleans from her surroundings. In a sense, the film is about TRUTH. In fact, philosophy majors may see a parallel between SAVING GRACE’s physical setting and Plato’s famous allegory of “The Cave.” In many ways, Pickle’s mise en scène suggests such a reading, in the way he often places his camera looking through a wall-sized plastic sheet hanging in Clayton’s living space, which produces an unclear, “smeared” visual field. Like Plato’s captive prisoners, Grace will only know TRUTH if and when she escapes from her dungeon into the “real” world outside.

—Donato Totaro

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