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STATES OF GRACE - 2006

SELECT ANOTHER FLICK CHICK MOVIE REVIEW FROM THE FILM CRITICS IN BLUE
J. ThorburnV. AlexanderC. PattersonJ. CorcoranPolly Peluso
Erica VitalD Mitchell

ERICA HECTOR VITAL

STATES OF GRACE

By
Erica Hector Vital
Red Rock Review
Las Vegas Round The Clock
http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com

ericavital@cox.net
ericav@theflickchicks.com
ericav@lasvegasroundtheclock.com

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

Written and Directed by Richard Dutcher

Review by: Erica Hector Vital
900 words

EVANGELIZIN’ IN THE HOOD


The images we associate with Mormonism are mild. White shirts, dark shoes, black ties. Salesmen’s manners. But the history of any religion is fraught with violence, bloodshed, the wages of sin, and hopefully, finally, the saving grace of redemption. Writer/director Richard Dutcher, who is credited with bringing a wider vision of the lives of Mormon missionaries to the screen with God’s Army (2000), has with his new film, STATES OF GRACE, constructed a story that in many ways follows the harsher, and thereby more realistic, trajectory of salvation.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, States of Grace, J. J. Boone, Adam Conger, Rachel Emmers, Alison Evans, Lucas Fleischer, Brett Granstaff, Aaron J. Hartnell, Jo-sei Ikeda, Samantha Klein, Rege Lewis, Allen Maldano, Danny Martinez, Michael May, Aiyani Mersai, Igncio Serricchio, Lamont Stephens, DeSean Terry, Randy Tobin



Dutcher’s opening scene in STATES OF GRACE is disarmingly standard. An all-American game of b-ball, a Santa Monica beach, a group of young people who could be any group of clean-cut, drug-free, good-natured Californians. Well, definitely not standard. As a matter of fact, it is in the innocence of this tableau, and the camaraderie of the crew on the court, an ethnic and gender inclusive mix of young men and women of all stripes, that we are hipped to the fact that the film contains a message. But the sense of the idyllic is fleeting. Dutcher uses this quiet moment as a vehicle, and very quickly drives the story and its characters into the center of the conflict of how the devote survive temptation, and very often, just plain survive.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, States of Grace, J. J. Boone, Adam Conger, Rachel Emmers, Alison Evans, Lucas Fleischer, Brett Granstaff, Aaron J. Hartnell, Jo-sei Ikeda, Samantha Klein, Rege Lewis, Allen Maldano, Danny Martinez, Michael May, Aiyani Mersai, Igncio Serricchio, Lamont Stephens, DeSean Terry, Randy Tobin



When two young missionaries, Elders Lozano and Farrell, General Hospital’s Ignaccio Serricchio and “Huff”’s Lucas Fleischer, leave the court and the safety of their circle to go about the work of saving souls on the streets of Santa Monica, they bump into a group of souls just as young, just as full of potential, but whose religion has been the gun, their church, fellow gang members.

The encounter, which ends in bloodshed, immedately reveals the secular side of Elder Lozano as the uniform of the missionary is literally peeled away to reveal a compromising past. This is one of the most powerful images of the film, and Ignacio Serricchio, as Elder Lozano, handles such revelations with a natural assurance. The camera loves him. The look of a young Eric Estrada doesn’t begin to do Serricchio justice. It is in the ethnic beauty of that face, and in the faces of Serricchio’s fellow cast members, that Dutcher explores one of the questions that cross the minds of many outsiders when it comes to the Church of the Latter Day Saints. It is the hot question of race. Like the shirts and the ties of the missionary, there is a certain heterogeneity associated with the Mormon church. A certain whiteness. But Dutcher has inhabited STATES OF GRACE with a range of characterizations that go beyond black and white. Elders and villains, bystanders and redemptors, are a reflection of all races and all cultural experiences.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, States of Grace, J. J. Boone, Adam Conger, Rachel Emmers, Alison Evans, Lucas Fleischer, Brett Granstaff, Aaron J. Hartnell, Jo-sei Ikeda, Samantha Klein, Rege Lewis, Allen Maldano, Danny Martinez, Michael May, Aiyani Mersai, Igncio Serricchio, Lamont Stephens, DeSean Terry, Randy Tobin



This is especially true in the case of Lamont Stephens’ portrayal of Carl, the aggressor in the opening clash between the secular and the ordained. Carl is a product of a life we have seen before: African-American, angry, a soul that finds its identity in the adulation and the anguish of gang life. And though we have seen it before, it is in bringing Carl’s journey to the screen that Dutcher hopes to make a difference. The story of Carl and his family is essential, it is the center of the film. It is through the interaction of Lozano and Carl that we are reminded of the kinship between saint and sinner.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, States of Grace, J. J. Boone, Adam Conger, Rachel Emmers, Alison Evans, Lucas Fleischer, Brett Granstaff, Aaron J. Hartnell, Jo-sei Ikeda, Samantha Klein, Rege Lewis, Allen Maldano, Danny Martinez, Michael May, Aiyani Mersai, Igncio Serricchio, Lamont Stephens, DeSean Terry, Randy Tobin



Lozano’s fellow missionary, Lucas Fleischer as Elder Farrell, becomes an unexpected reminder of the thin and necessary line between saint and sinner when the girl next door, Rachel Emmers as Holly, threatens to shake the path of his faith. With his quiet manner and all-American looks Elder Farrell is the face of the Mormon “ideal.” Unlike Lozano whose history as a convert informs as well as compromises his work as a missionary, Farrell is from an established Mormon family, as he shares with Lozano, “My father told me he’d rather I come home in a casket than come home dishonored.” This staunch edict brings tragic consequences and it is becomes clear that just as the gang member, Carl, and the itinerant homeless Pentecostal preacher played with a worn dignity by African-American playwright and actor, Jo’Sei, are in need of salvation, so too is Elder Farrell.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, States of Grace, J. J. Boone, Adam Conger, Rachel Emmers, Alison Evans, Lucas Fleischer, Brett Granstaff, Aaron J. Hartnell, Jo-sei Ikeda, Samantha Klein, Rege Lewis, Allen Maldano, Danny Martinez, Michael May, Aiyani Mersai, Igncio Serricchio, Lamont Stephens, DeSean Terry, Randy Tobin



There is a challenge implicit in the film as Dutcher pairs the Book of Mormon with the Bible in one scene and has Elder Lozano gently chide Elder Farrell in another with the question of what he would rather do, “Break the rules or keep the commandments?” As the church is marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of its founder Joseph Smith, Dutcher seems to point inside as well
as outside the church to remind us of the quality we all share. Whether Buddhist, Hindi, Holyroller, or Skeptic, we are all in need of the saving grace of humanity, community, love.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, States of Grace, J. J. Boone, Adam Conger, Rachel Emmers, Alison Evans, Lucas Fleischer, Brett Granstaff, Aaron J. Hartnell, Jo-sei Ikeda, Samantha Klein, Rege Lewis, Allen Maldano, Danny Martinez, Michael May, Aiyani Mersai, Igncio Serricchio, Lamont Stephens, DeSean Terry, Randy Tobin



Produced by Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller, STATES OF GRACE, at times reflects its modest budget of $1.5 million. With that said, there are some hugely cinematic moments which also reflect Dutcher’s goal to bring the stirring and sometimes shocking visual precepts of mainstream cinema to Mormon filmmaking. Carl’s welcome into the church is paired with a death scene that is strongly influenced by Francis Ford Coppola. The interaction and dialogue between gang members is pure Singleton. The message and the sincerity is all Dutcher, reminding Mormon and non-Mormon, that it is human frailty, human fault, that makes grace not only necessary but possible.

Stirring and inspirational.

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

SELECT ANOTHER FLICK CHICK MOVIE REVIEW FROM THE FILM CRITICS IN BLUE
J. ThorburnV. AlexanderC. PattersonJ. CorcoranPolly Peluso
Erica VitalD Mitchell

 

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