Plot: What’s it about?
Gracie Thompson (Kristen Bell) has not had the kind of childhood a child deserves, instead her life has been one continuous nightmare of sorts. She has been in more schools than she can remember, which means more homes and locations also. Just when she begins to settle in and start to be part of her new schools, she winds up heading off to yet another new destination. The cause of her chaotic lifestyle is her mother Rowena (Anne Heche), who has no parenting skills in the least. But it isn’t just the small things, as Rowena falls in with bad men, indulges in casual sex, and is addicted to narcotics. All this had lead her to the current situation, in which Gracie has turned seventeen and battles with her mother at all turns. Gracie is not a bad daughter, instead she tries to help her mom when she can, only to be abused in return. Gracie is not alone in her pain, as she also has three brothers and a sister, all younger than herself. None of the children share a father though, but that doesn’t lessen the bond Gracie feels with her siblings. When Rowena’s latest boyfriend tries to rape Gracie, the police become involved and jail is in Rowena’s future. The children go to stay with their grandmother, though she isn’t much help either, but Gracie is determined to make a better life. Not for herself, but for her brothers and sister, whom she wishes to have a better childhood than she did. But even if she can work hard and be the mother she never had, what will happen when Rowena returns?
This is another release in Lifetime’s Original Movie series, a line which is sure to please fans of melodrama, no doubt. As Lifetime is a network geared toward the female population, their original movies are estrogen festivals, at least to an immense extent. The network really only makes two kinds of movies, melodramas based on real life events and more tense films that are cautionary tales. You know, like dangerous romances or flirtation with the wrong kind of guys, that kind of stuff. Gracie’s Choice is a melodrama and of course, it was inspired by real life events. That means you’ll inspired too, or at least that is what Lifetime hopes to do with this warm, uplifting tale of one young woman’s will to improve life for her loved ones. This is not a new concept, but the cast manages to keep the movie alive, thanks to some solid performances. Anne Heche (Return to Paradise, Donnie Brasco) goes a little over the top at times, but turns in a strong overall effort. Diane Ladd (Wild at Heart, Chinatown) is also solid, but the movie is driven by the performance of Kristen Bell (Spartan, Tv’s Veronica Mars). Bell hasn’t had a lot of experience, but she comes off quite well here. I think her lack of polish enhances her performance, as she comes off as natural and vulnerable. I can’t say that I loved Gracie’s Choice, but then again, the movie wasn’t as bad as I expected. The melodrama is laid on too much in a number of scenes, but the pace is brisker than I thought, so it all balances out. So if you’re a fan of Lifetime Original Movies, then you’ll want to give Gracie’s Choice as a look, most likely as a rental.
Video: How does it look?
Gracie’s Choice is presented in full frame, as intended. This is a pretty recent production, so I counted on a terrific overall visual treatment. The print shows no real blemishes to speak of, even the darkest of scenes look solid and on the mark. The colors have a grim, often understated appearance and that’s as intended, while flesh tones seem natural at all times. No issues with contrast either, as black levels are smooth and refined, without fail. All in all, a superb visual presentation in all respects and one that should satisfy fans. Not a visual treat, but a great presentation, no doubt.
Audio: How does it sound?
A 2.0 surround option is included here, but even so, I had some doubts about how active and immersive this film’s soundtrack could be. Those doubts were erased, at least somewhat, as the audio here has more life than expected. The music comes through quite well and sounds rich and well placed within the mix. When effects do emerge they sound good, but without the full surround format they seem hollow and limited. The dialogue sounds terrific though and shows no volume or separation inconsistencies. This is a movie from Lifetime after all, so if you were expecting any kind of dynamic audio, please pass over whatever you’re smoking, ok? This disc also includes subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a featurette on the production, with cast and crew interviews.