A Fall From Grace
Starring Crystal Fox, Bresha Webb, Phylicia Rashad, Tyler Perry, Mehcad Brooks, Cicely Tyson
In Tyler Perry’s latest film A Fall From Grace, there is murder, sex, and family drama, all wrapped up in a crime mystery. Perry tosses aside his iconic Madea costume to deliver his first original film on Netflix. More interesting than the plot is the fact the Atlanta filmmaker shot the film in five days. As impressive as that might sound, efficiency takes the place over artistry or anything remotely cinematic. Netflix’s attempt to cater to all of it’s subscribers tastes puts A Fall From Grace directly in competition with the latest domestic thriller on Lifetime. Perry’s writing rarely afford the actors depth on the page, most technical elements appear barely considered. Even Perry’s answers about the process in a recent interview were rushed and his reply was “I don’t know how to work another way”. Film critics and cinephiles can easily predict the culprit within the first act.
The name Grace Walters (Fox) is on every news channel and the tongue of each citizen in the small town. Accused of killing her new husband (Brooks), Grace has decided to pled guilty and accept life in prison. Jasmine Bryant (Webb) is the public defender assigned to the case. With no trial experience, never having been in the room with a murder, her instincts say there is more going on here than a nice grandmother without as much as a parking ticket. Bryant looks at a few pieces of evidence and convinces Walters to go to trial, disobeying her boss Roy (Perry). The Walters case gets more strange when Bryant visits Sarah (Rashad), Walters’ best friend, discovering frightened elderly women living in her house.
The most standardized cinematography, generic editing, in fact, most of the film is Walters character simply explaining to her lawyer what happened.
A Fall From Grace is like most other made-for-tv-movies, it’s simple, and outrageous. Knowing about the five day production schedule explains the sterile filmmaking approach. Perry isn’t interested in making a scene do anything beyond it’s most basic function. Rashad (Creed) and Fox (Big Little Lies) deliver utilitarian performances that never convince the audience they are believable best friends. Likewise the only reason you know Grace Walters loves her son, is because you are told, not shown. The most standardized cinematography, generic editing, in fact, most of the film is Walters character simply explaining to her lawyer what happened. When asked about actors getting time to prepare and get to know each other, Perry said he didn’t want that. It became very clear talking with Perry who is writer, director, producer and co-star in the film, that he makes movies like an assembly line, no room for nuance.
“If an actor wants another take, I will give them as many as they want. At the end of the day though, I am making the decision, if I know I’ve got it, there is no point in doing it again”. In his rush to make movies, Perry apparently skip’s dailies as well, or he would have noticed background actors in the diner scene holding a fork, but never eating, or extra’s looking directly at the camera. You might think, film critics are trained to look and find those things. However, you only notice something of that nature when a scene is so lackluster, your eyes wander. In a classic Perry scene, Fox’s character asks, “Am I that stupid…” and the audience verbally answered yes and laughed at scenes that were not intended to be comical. The more you analyze A Fall From Grace, the more is falls apart.
Tyler Perry shot A Fall From Grace in five days… and it shows.