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While probably written with good intentions, the execution of A Girl Like Grace is a bit off.
Trigger Warning(s): Self-Harm, Bullying, and Gang Rape
Review (with Spoilers)
Grace (Ryan Destiny) | Share (Meagan Good) | Lisa (Garcelle Beauvais) | Mary (Raven Symoné) | Andrea (Paige Hurd) | Jason (Romeo Miller) | Matt (Ty Hodges)
A girl like Grace. A good girl with few friends, but those friendships were everything to her. However, now one is gone and though she still has her guy friend Matt, it isn’t the same. But having him there is better than no one for senior year. A tough time because so much happened over the summer. Something neither Grace’s mom Lisa nor the local bully Mary, seem to really care about nor take responsibility for their part in it. Yet maybe Jason, this boy who likes Grace, could be a silver lining? Maybe Share, Andrea’s sister, the one who left, can fill in the gap of time Andrea left? Who knows? Maybe senior year may not be as bad as Grace was expecting it to be right?
Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered
- The scenes of self-harm aren’t too graphic. It is a blade across the wrist and blood coming out but no open wound.
- The rape scene is mostly camera tricks with us seeing from the survivor/victim’s point of view. There aren’t any screams, no moans, and sighs, just the visual of multiple men on top of them.
- How old was Share?
Originally the highlight was going to be the relationship between Grace and Andrea. However, then I realized how well the relationship and chemistry is between Grace and most of the characters in the film. Leading to the realization it was all Ryan Destiny. This little thing, who most may know either due to her stint in LoveDollhouse or the upcoming series Star may just be more than another cute face given an acting career. For while she doesn’t get the opportunity to show any emotional range, it is undeniable she does have a presence on screen. On top of that, she has this chemistry with damn near anyone she works with which whether it is as adversaries, as it is with Raven, as lovers, as we see with Miller, or something a bit complicated, as we see with Hurd, she adapts to the situation and the person. Making it so you are given a taste of who she can be, how well she can mesh to various situations, and while she still has room to grow as an actress, the potential is there.
Not Enough Details
While enough is given to fill in the details, thanks to a snide comment here or assumptions you can make, at times it felt like you didn’t get a full grip on what made a character become like they did. Either in terms of who they are by the end of the movie or who they were when the movie started. Andrea is perhaps the prime example for while her situation is understandable, in terms of feeling like an outsider who just wants to get away or disappear, when it came to the bullying and this situation she has with Mary, we are given just enough to get the point. We aren’t given a fully fleshed out person but more so have to rely on our own experiences with people like Andrea, either personal or through media, to fully understand the character. That is, as opposed to the story and Hurd doing so.
It doesn’t necessarily end there either. For Lisa, pretty much you have to rely on stereotypes, to a certain degree, to understand what makes her as she is. Could she act the way she does because she solely relied on being pretty and not much else? That is what Grace says, but that feels like a shallow reason doesn’t it? We are going to funnel every issue Lisa could have and give the blanket reason for them being that she relied too heavily on her looks? Surely, in an age where women demand meatier roles, especially the often forgotten Black woman, something more could have been written and done. Especially since it isn’t like Beauvais is new to the game. She could certainly handle a character with some weight to them.
Leaving Grace. As much as I may praise the chemistry Destiny brings to her character’s relationships with everyone, the relationship between her and Share was an odd one. I won’t go overboard with the details, but let’s just say as Andrea was the catalyst for Grace becoming down in the dumps, Share is the one who has Grace do a 180. Thus beginning a coming of age type of story which has one major issue: The transition from the Grace that Andrea knew to the one Share had an influence on isn’t smooth. It, to me, was like a light switch type of change.
Overall: Mixed (Home Viewing)
If this was a show, I would loyally watch it. You can see potential in each character and Destiny has good chemistry with her fellow actors. Unfortunately, though, this is a movie. One which has too much fat as we watch Lisa try to get food stamps, we watch Share get a job, take care of her grandma or have boy trouble. Leaving you feeling that all that time wasted could have been used to help smooth out Grace’s transition from girl to discovering herself as a woman. It could have been used to flesh out Andrea, or even Lisa and Share’s past. Yet, the film didn’t. Leaving you wanting more and disappointed. Especially since Black girl coming of age movies are rare.