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"Grace is Gone" and The Perils of Film Reviewing

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik January 27, 2007 at 3:04AM

"Grace is Gone" and The Perils of Film Reviewing
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I didn't like "Grace is Gone," James C. Strouse's Iraq homefront melodrama that was acquired at Sundance by The Weinstein Co. One of my chief complaints about the movie was the way it looked. The cinematography felt flat, and in my indieWIRE review, I incorrectly stated that the movie was shot in HD-DV. Well, "Grace is Gone" director of photography Jean-Louis Bompoint (who also shot Michel Gondry's "The Science of Sleep") wrote me an email with a correction: The film was actually shot in Super 35mm, with Fuji Eterna 64D – 250D – 500T film stock. He even sent along stills of the film to show how much better it'd look on celluloid as opposed to the digital projection.

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This doesn't make me like the movie anymore, of course, but it does show how dangerous it can be to premiere a film at a festival under less than pristine conditions, and to unveil it to people like me who are ready to criticize it. I feel bad for Mr. Bompoint, and I certainly don't want to damage his reputation, as he writes, "I sincerely think my film career was injured with your latest lines about my work."

The fact is the film's look probably has more to do with Strouse than Bompoint. Perhaps I should have really said it was the direction that was flat, not the cinematography. Or perhaps Bompoint's style was not suited to "Grace is Gone." "The Science of Sleep"'s strange, unreal quality makes perfect sense. But in "Grace is Gone," the big pink walls and uninspired camera placements don't do much to help the emotional truth of the story.