(M) Directed by Sue Brooks
Starring Radha Mitchell, Richard Roxburgh, Odessa Young
by Ben McEachen
How do you know you are a Westerner? When you demand that everything has a meaning, able to be distilled down to a simple statement.
Although it’s a modern Australian story, Looking For Grace defies that Western world trait of explicit purpose. But even when you realise this about what writer-director Sue Brooks presents, good luck with working out why you’re going along for the pointless ride.
Via the Rashomon approach of different perspectives upon the same events, we are privy to the running away of teen Grace (Odessa Young). Aside from needless “stories” with side characters who barely register, the main versions of events are from the standpoints of Grace and her parents, Dan (Richard Roxburgh) and Denise (Radha Mitchell). In seeking to capture the mundane and minor in real life, Brooks (Japanese Story) restricts the domestic disturbance to a character study. That would be fine if we got something potent or substantial or resounding from those involved. But bearing witness to one family surprised by lack of connection and the scourge of routine only fosters frustration at what’s not been included.
The reasons behind Grace, Dan and Denise’s actions are scant. They don’t seem to be hidden; just not available. Responding emotionally to what’s meekly going on is tough because it’s hard to get a grip on this sketched family. And when the finale comes, its apparent attempt at commentating on life is almost an admission that, yes, perhaps a point would have helped.