We’ve seen this type of story on film before, but I still couldn’t help but be deeply sucked in by this picture’s quality and emotional resonance. STATE OF GRACE’s main strength is definitely its characters and the awesome actors behind them. We have Sean Penn’s conflicted and tortured Terry and his subsequent bumpy love affair with Kathleen (Wright), as well as Jackie’s (wonderfully played by Gary Oldman) gung-ho, suicidal take on things and Frankie’s (Harris) cold and straight-forward demeanor. The human drama is laid on thick here and it’s what kept me into the game throughout. The flick’s constant heavy emphasis on universal themes such as friendship, love, betrayal and family also made the happenings much more gripping than the norm and the poignant twists that eventually arose due to each players’ layered persona, their relationships and the ugly situations at hand, never failed to touch me either.
Sure, STATE OF GRACE could’ve been slightly cut down in terms of length and its last block did wind up taking a more familiar route within its genre (mafia), but that still didn’t lessen its overall impact. Having invested so much into the characters from the get-go, what eventually went down kicked my ass to oblivion and yes...tissues came into play. Couple all that with a sumptuous score by Enio Morricone, gritty cinematography by Jordan Cronenweth and slow motion heavy (loved the shootouts) directing by Phil Joanou, and you get a film that managed to punch me from every emotional and aesthetic angle, like an Irish boxer looking for a knock-out.