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'Grace Is Gone'

James C. Strouse's bittersweet drama observes a few crucial days in the life of a grief-stricken father who can't bring himself to tell his preteen daughters that their mother has been killed while stationed in Iraq. To keep them from finding out from neighbors, Stanley (John Cusack) takes the girls on a three-day road trip to an amusement park, looking for the right moment to tell them, while trying to work through his own grief.

Cusack adopts a hunched stance, making himself drab and nebbishy; it almost seems a showy choice, considering the smart-alecks and smooth operators he usually plays. But like the film, which eschews politics to concentrate solely on the family's grief, the performance ends up feeling restrained — and affecting.

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