Saving Grace B. Jones

Purportedly based on her own experiences during the unusually eventful summer when she was 12 years old, Saving Grace B. Jones is the narrative feature directorial debut of actress Connie Stevens. After witnessing a murder in her native Brooklyn, young Carrie (Rylee Fansler) is sent to live with family friend Landy (Michael Biehn) in Missouri, arriving just as Landy's sociopathic and potentially homicidal sister Grace (Tatum O'Neal) comes home from an insane asylum at his foolhardy insistence—and the Great Flood of 1951 is on its way, too. That's plenty of story right there, but Saving Grace B. Jones has more to dole out. The film packs in more characters, subplots, and moments of nostalgic detail than it can gracefully accommodate, and the pacing often feels rushed. (How much time did Grace have to sew that dress, exactly?) But being ambitious is better than not: There are a few genuine shocks when the film finally gives in to being a thriller, and director Stevens finds new veins to tap in Charles Laughton's 1955 children-in-peril masterpiece The Night of the Hunter. Having Piper Laurie channel Lillian Gish is an appropriately bold way to kick off a directing career. Sherilyn Connelly

 
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