DVD Review: Grace Is Gone (12) (82 mins), new on DVD from Blockbuster.

Understated and restrained throughout, here’s a tearjerker which will stay with you – a piece beautifully played by all concerned.

There’s absolutely no gush, nothing full on, in James C Strouse’s exploration of bereavement – and the film is all the more effective for it.

John Cusack is excellent as the rather dull Stanley, a man left to bring up his two daughters alone while his high-flying army sergeant wife fights in Afghanistan.

When the news comes through that she has been killed in action, Stanley steels himself to break the news to the children. But at the final moment, he just can’t go through with it.

Instead he asks them where they would most like to go; the answer is a Florida amusement park hundreds of miles away; and so they set off on the strangest of road trips. The older daughter – an insomniac prone to going AWOL at night – starts to suspect something’s up; the younger child is blithely up for fun.

The film sucks you in from the start, Cusack’s Stanley delaying the inevitable which you know will come. Stanley is not just avoiding the truth; he’s trying to protect innocence, his as well as the girls’ – and that’s what makes this film so affecting.

Phil Hewitt

Film rental courtesy of Blockbuster. For other new releases, see www.blockbuster.co.uk.