Grace Is Gone

From Grosse Pointe Blank to High Fidelity to Max, John Cusack has invested a lot of sweat in developing ambitious projects for himself, so it seems cruel to finger him as the weak link in this Iraq war drama. But his quickness and intelligence make him a poor choice to play the flat-footed main character, a rigidly conservative family man who can't work up the nerve to tell his two daughters their soldier mother has been killed in action. Shelan O'Keefe gives a striking performance as the older child, who realizes something is up, and Cusack's climactic confession is heartrending. But too many other moments strain credibility, like the telephone monologues he delivers to his late wife after hearing her voice on their home answering machine. James C. Strouse directed his own script. PG-13, 85 min.

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