Looking for Grace
Odessa Young as Grace in Looking for Grace.

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A teenage girl is on the run, her panicked parents are in pursuit, and a large sum of cash is missing in this suspenseful, fragmented Australian film.

Stunning opening shots of watercolour toned, tapestry-like Western Australian landscapes set the scene. Humming dessert surrounds are contrasted by a semi-modern bus interior, drab hotel rooms and pit stops, and eventually by the somewhat surprising upper-middle-class interior of Grace’s family home.

Looking For Grace is not a typical drama – writer/director Sue Brooks is definitely more infatuated with the small moments than the overall plot, when characters are caught off guard. Scenarios from a multitude of personal perspectives unfold in a lingering pace, without much regard for a beginning, middle and end – but the traditional story structure is hardly missed as you let the journey envelop you.

In the titular role, Odessa Young acts as a refreshingly realistic frustrated teenage girl. Radha Mitchell and Richard Roxburgh begin as Grace’s quietly panicking parents, eventually to reveal poignantly flawed characters. Terry Norris as elderly detective Tom is a highlight amongst a committed cast.

Unexpected characters and twists are continually introduced, revealing a bread crumb trail of clues, revealing dark secrets of greed and passion, amusing anecdotes, pure moments of human connection and all eventually taking a much darker turn than you would have foreseen.

There’ll certainly be viewers who aren’t impressed by the slow pace and non-traditional structure, but patient viewers who are prepared to cope with a harrowing ending should find pleasure in this remarkably packaged addition to Australian cinema. (AM)

***1/2

In cinemas from Jan 26. Exclusive preview screenings on Jan 25: 6:30pm at Palace Chauvel (followed by Q&A with Richard Roxburgh and Sue Brooks, moderated by Margaret Pomeranz) and 7:15pm at Palace Norton Street (introduced by Richard Roxburgh and Sue Brooks). $9.50-$12.50. Tickets & info: palacecinemas.com.au/events