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Rock singer John Mellencamp makes his screen and directorial debut in this story by "Lonesome Dove" author, Larry McMurtry. The story, not too separated from Mellencamp's real life, finds him as a country music star whose meanderings and philandering has thrown his life into turmoil. Returning to his native Indiana to try to reestablish a normal life. Instead he takes up with an old lover (Lenz), ignoring his loving wife (Hemingway), and duplicating the lifestyle of his womanizing father (Akins).Written by
John Sacksteder <Jsack@ka.net>
...that's what "Falling from Grace" is about. Released in 1992, John (Cougar) Mellencamp plays a country star, Bud, who tries to come home to Indiana, bringing his tall blond wife (Mariel Hemingway) and daughter. Unfortunately, his dad's a total jerk (Claude Akins) and his high school sweetheart (Kay Lenz) is married to his brother and having an affair with someone linked to both. It seems like the star just wants to take a break from the show business and hang with his buds and family, like in the old days, but melancholy settles in and temptation strikes.
Wow, after seeing this my wife and I gave thanks for our dysfunctional families -- we never knew we had it so good!
This is a solid drama by first-and-only-time director Mellencamp. All the main players noted above do fine in their roles, but some of the side players are flat and unconvincing, like the bearded guy who works for Bud.
The first time I saw this movie I thought it was an okay drama, but I felt it was dragged down by the country star's mopiness, which is fundamental to the story -- I understand -- but it's still frustrating for the viewer. A couple of the key characters are a turn-off as well, but isn't this the way it is in real life? Noted critic Roger Ebert gave "Falling from Grace" his top rating and Gene Siskel also praised it, but Leonard Martin rated it a BOMB in his guide. The critics on Sneak Previews also dogged it. This just goes to show that "Falling from Grace" is a love-or-hate-it piece.
While I'm somewhere in the middle, I enjoyed it a lot more on my second viewing and therefore lean toward the 'love it' side. It's a low-budget film that is better on repeat viewings. I Like the Seymour, Indiana, locations, which is John's actual hometown. The situations reflect real-life and there are some thematic gems to mine, like "the sins of the father" and the negative domino effect of unfaithfulness. I also like the way the movie ends.
Speaking of which, Bud's wife, Alice, shares a great line: "You can't have some secret world in your mind and another one on the street." Chew on that.
The film runs 100 minutes.
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