John Mellencamp, Mariel Hemingway, Claude Akins
My review of this film is based not just on my critical opinion of this film. It's simply not. My review of this film is based on a lifelong love of John Mellencamp...his music, his person, his beliefs and his being a native Hoosier. Now that I've admitted that...down to the task at hand.
This is still a pretty damn good film. Written by Larry McMurtry, "Falling From Grace" is directed by and stars Hoosier rocker and noted Farm Aid activist John Mellencamp. Mellencamp is pretty much a god in Indiana...he is from here and still lives here. His concerts consistently sell out our domed stadium, even when he chooses to do 2 or 3 night stands. There are VERY few artists who can do that here.
"Falling From Grace" has many autobiographical tones for Mellencamp's own life...it is about a philandering rock star who returns home trying to make peace but ends up continuing the same behavior. It's a simple story...in many ways, it's an ideal Hoosier story...it has a "down home" feel to it and was destined to have no box office success. There's no action here...no special effects...just straightforward storytelling backed by good, but not outstanding performances by all involved.
In his acting debut, Mellencamp plays "Bud" and does so with a simple honesty about his performance. In real life, Mellencamp is on his third wife and has five children...he's been known historically as challenging to work with even when singing about unity and racial tolerance. All those dynamics come out in his performance here as he clearly has a personal connection to this character. So, is it a stretch acting wise? Probably not, but it's still a good performance.
The supporting performances include Claude Akins as Bud's father, who exhibits the same traits as his son, Mariel Hemingway as Bud's ever devoted and loving wife...Dub Taylor, Kay Lenz, Mellencamp bandmember Larry Crane and others round out the cast.
The music here is solid, but not the best of Mellencamp...the film received critical praise, including from Roger Ebert and Peter Travers of Rolling Stone.
The film loses points for a somewhat weak ending, and a general lack of excitement within the film. I've heard some compare this film to "Pure Country," and that's a fairly reasonable comparison. It's a good film that brings to mind the question "Can we ever really go home?"
Mellencamp fans....fans of "country" themed films...and fans of good old, simple storytelling will find a lot to enjoy here..."Falling From Grace" is not a perfect film, but it's an enjoyable film with solid music, good acting, a great script by Larry McMurtry and some really beautiful cinematography.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic