Without Grace Parent Guide
This is an abysmally bad film, poorly written and full of sexual content.
Parent Movie Review
When Grace (Heidi Kurzejka) dies the morning after her wedding, her bereaved husband, Lucas (Shannon Brown), is devastated. His faith in God is shaken, his life feels unmoored, and he spends a year grieving alone. Finally, his three closest friends (played by Jimmie Tolliver, Marc Edwards, and Dave Block) step in and insist that he start living again. To help out, they offer to set him up on dates, but you can’t expect crazy friends to come up with normal dating partners…
Romantic films are usually formulaic, and that’s not always a bad thing. They can be the cinematic version of comfort food, offering both predictability and soothing neurochemicals. That doesn’t happen here. Without Grace is an irredeemably bad film, combining a thin gloss of Christian messaging with excessive sexual material, terrible acting, stereotypical characters, canned dialogue, and (as an added bonus) cheap sets.
It’s difficult to know where to start dissecting this production’s multiple flaws, but I’ll have to begin with the stereotypical characters. Lucas’s friends are Chase, the responsible, mature one; Mason, the brash, clueless one with a heart of gold; and Terry, the mildly crazy doofus. Unsurprisingly, these guys set Lucas up with other stereotypes: the crazy woman, the inflexible Christian, the bimbo wannabe actress, and the Daisy Mae character complete with cleavage, badly bleached hair, and an over-protective daddy. Given that none of the characters have any depth, it’s not a surprise that the dialogue sounds like it was written by a high school drama class. But the bad acting is entirely on the cast, who are excruciatingly self-conscious as they deliver their canned lines, making it impossible for us to forget that we’re watching a performance. Also problematic are the irritating moments thrown at the already suffering audience. There’s the tackiness of mining mental illness for comic fodder and the mystifying use of a homeless man as a life guide for Lucas. It’s unclear what director Matthew Cichella is trying to do here. Is this man supposed to be channeling the wisdom of the universe through his feel-good aphorisms or is he intended to be some kind of heavenly guardian in disguise? Whatever it is, it doesn’t work.
What also fails to work are the movie’s sets. This is clearly a low budget film – and I don’t have a problem with that – but the sets look cheap. The restaurants where Lucas meets his dates sometimes look like hastily dressed up generic rooms, the wedding reception is more poorly decorated than a mediocre prom, and the funeral is so sloppy that even drape cloths haven’t been ironed. This might sound like mean-spirited nit-picking, but the overall effect is distracting and makes the viewing experience less enjoyable.
The biggest problem with this film, however, is its astounding level of negative content. The movie is advertised as having a “faith based undercurrent” but clearly the production staff missed the memo about the preference of Christian viewers for clean movies. Without Grace contains more sexual material (marital and non-marital) than almost any film I’ve seen in years. There are frequent sex scenes, including one where we see an almost naked woman mounting a man; she’s clad only in a thong that fully displays her buttocks. In another scene, a naked man is clearly seen on top of a naked woman with her thighs around him. A woman tries to seduce a man, dropping her dress and showing the side of her breast, and in another scene she suggests a sexual threesome. Throw in frequent scenes of alcohol consumption and drunkenness and this is definitely not family-friendly programing. Saving Grace probably qualifies for a PG-13 rating (since none of the nudity involves frontal breast shots or genitals), but it’s at the very high end of that scale. And given the film’s profound mediocrity, that’s the only scale it’s going to ace. It’s a bottom dweller on every other metric.Directed by Matthew Cichella. Starring Shannon Brown, Heidi Kurzejka, Hilary Anderson. Running time: 113 minutes. Theatrical release May 18, 2021. Updated May 20, 2021
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Rating & Content Info
Why is Without Grace rated Not Rated? Without Grace is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: There’s mention of a man’s stab wound. A main character collapses and dies. A man kicks his friend twice, knocking him off his chair. A man threatens to hit another man with a hammer. A man is kneed in the groin when he startles a woman.
Sexual Content: A newlywed couple kiss passionately several times. A groom removes his wife’s garter with his teeth. A man’s trousers hang low, exposing the top of his buttocks. Men discuss past sexual affairs and the sending of nude photos. A couple dances suggestively. A man refers to “babymaking”. A topless married couple are seen embracing in bed more than once: the woman’s buttocks are visible as she straddles him. A man kisses his wife’s shoulders in bed. A man suggests that his wife shower with him. A woman attempts to seduce a man: she removes her dress, revealing her back and the side of her breast. A woman uses her hands to jiggle her breasts while using a slang term for them. A man propositions another man and the two have a discussion about sexual orientation. There is some sexual innuendo involving a pool cue. A man and woman discuss how sexy she is. A man mentions a woman showering with her curtains open. There is a reference to sexual performance. A man and woman are shown together in bed with sex implied. A woman suggests a sexual threesome. A woman jumps on a man’s lap, kisses him passionately and removes her shirt. A woman begins to remove her jogging bra. An unmarried couple embrace in bed: he’s naked and is on top of her, between her legs and sex is implied.
Profanity: There are over a dozen profanities in the film, including five terms of deity and a smattering of scatological curses, minor swear words, and some crude anatomical terms. A sexual expletive is begun but not finished.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Main characters drink alcohol at a wedding. A main character gets drunk and has to be talked out of driving. A main character is shown sitting among a number of empty beer cans. Main characters go out with the intent to get drunk, which they do.
Page last updated May 20, 2021
Without Grace Parents' Guide
How does Grace’s death affect Lucas’s faith? Do you have religious beliefs? Do they help you when life is painful or do life’s challenges weaken your faith?
Related home video titles:
Christian films frequently deal with themes of love and loss. Better options include I Still Believe, the story of an engaged couple who are thrown off balance by a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. A young military widow struggles with grief and shattered faith after her husband’s death in God Bless the Broken Road.
Widowers have a second chance at love in secular movies as well. Perhaps the best known is The Sound of Music in which a young nun is sent to help a widowed military officer with his large family. In Sarah Plain and Tall, a woman answers a homesteader’s advertisement for a wife and uproots herself from the New England coast for a new life on the prairie. Return to Me sees a bereaved widower fall in love with a young woman who has just had a second chance at life.