Saving Grace

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As “Waking Ned Divine” taught us, nothing is more quaint and amusing than a small Irish town full of dotty Irish people. “Saving Grace” is not quite as good as “Waking Ned Divine,” but the spirit of sweetly anarchic villagers with no respect for the law is alive and well in this enjoyable outing.

The film opens with the death of Grace’s husband. The sweet, middle-aged Grace (Brenda Blethyn) is left destitute, unfortunately, as it seems her husband was not exactly the prince she thought he was. He owed money to everyone, borrowed funds to start businesses that never happened, and even kept a mistress named Honey (Diana Quick) in London.

So what’s a gal to do? Well, as it happens, Grace is an expert in the greenhouse and her gardener, Matthew (Craig Ferguson), whom she can no longer afford to pay, asks her to help him revive a dying plant of his. The plant happens to be marijuana, and sure enough, with Grace’s expertise, buds are forming overnight.

Soon Grace has developed a scheme: Grow enough pot to sell it to dealer for the 300,000 pounds she needs to keep her estate. She’s a law-abiding woman, but desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

No one seems to object much to people in town smoking pot; even Matthew’s girlfriend, Nicky (Valerie Edmond), who’s pregnant but hasn’t told him yet, doesn’t mind his activities there. But a full-scale operation is another matter.

Blethyn’s performance as Grace is, well, graceful. The character is dignified but resourceful; the scene in which she tries to find a dealer in downtown London is practically heart-breaking, so out-of-her-element is the respectable Grace.

Ferguson’s Matthew is not fleshed out very well, nor is his romance with Nicky terribly engaging, but it’s not distracting from the main action. Local conspiracy theorist and pot-head Harvey (Tristan Sturrock) is a hoot, as are a couple old ladies (Phyllida Law and Linda Kerr Scott) who stumble upon the marijuana plants and make a “pot” of tea from its leaves.

The film’s ending is its only liability. Things follow the only course they possibly could — and then, to get out of the corner the film has painted itself into, things wrap up far too easily. Most of the movie is smarter than that; it’s a shame to see things get so ridiculous in the resolution.

B (; R, pretty heavy profanity, brief male nudity,.)

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