Review of Netflix drama, ‘A Fall from Grace’ from Tyler Perry

May 12, 2021 Mario Bautista 810 views

TYLER Perry is one of the biggest names in Hollywood as an actor, producer, writer and director. As a content creator, he is very prolific, but he’s not really known here locally as his biggest hit franchise, the Madea films (a total of 11 films where he plays an old elderly black woman), are not even shown here.

Even his hit TV series, like “House of Payne” for TBS that ran for 8 seasons and “The Haves and Have Nots” that he did with Oprah Winfrey, have not been released locally. Most of his films and TV shows have a predominantly African-American cast.

Admit it or not, this shows that Pinoy viewers can be racist (take a look at how they bullied the black Miss Canada contestant in the Miss Universe). They only watch the films of real popular black actors like Denzel Washington and Will Smith, and yes the late Chadwick Boseman’s “Black Panther”.

But Tyler is in Time Magazine’s list last year of the 100 Most Influential People and he’s a recipient of the prestigious Oscar Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. He has also directed more than 20 films, most of which are big hits in the U.S. even as critics pan them.

We just saw the last film he directed, “A Fall from Grace”, a mystery drama with an all-black cast that is his first film with Netflix. If you’ve seen his other films before, you know it’s not meant to win awards but just a pleasant diversion for those who want films that won’t tax their brains.

A female lawyer, Jasmine Bryant (Bresha Webb), is known for taking plea deals for her clients and has never won a single case. Her boss, Rory (played by Tyler Perry himself), asks her to defend a woman, Grace (Crystal Fox), accused of killing her husband, Shannon (Mehcad Brooks.) Grace admits she’s guilty and just wants to be imprisoned in a facility that is near to her son’s place.

Jasmine is intrigued by the case since Shannon’s body was never found. To uncover the whole story, she asks Sarah (Phylicia Rashad), Grace’s friend and neighbor about Grace’s relationship with Shannon. She learns it’s Sarah herself who urged the lonely Grace to go out and date Shannon after her divorce with her former husband who left her for his much younger secretary.

Shannon openly flirts with Grace and she falls for his hunky charms. They get married after a whirlwind romance, but after a while, Grace is fired from her job in a bank when it was discovered that she had embezzled so much money and even her house has been mortgaged without her knowing it. It turns out Shannon has stolen her identity and forged all the necessary documents.

When she confronts him about it, he says that he being her husband, the law says he is entitled to everything she has. She later also discovers him in bed with another woman. After the woman has left, she repeatedly hits him with a baseball bat, pretty sure that she has killed him. Jasmine is positive she can prove that Grace is not guilty but in the court hearings, she bangles it all up and the jury finds Grace guilty.

The film turns into a thriller when Jasmine goes to Sarah’s house and discovers a deep dark secret. Someone then grabs her, ties her down and locks her up. We won’t go into the details anymore. Suffice it to say that after a fairly believable build up, the script goes bonkers at this point and everything in the fairly credible storytelling will be reversed as the script forays into some really strange excursions.

Maybe, the loyal fans of Tyler Perry as a filmmaker with whom his works have been resonating for several years now, will not mind it. We heard his films earn so much money because they’re low budget, like this movie that was made for only five days, something like the “pito-pito” movies of Regal before. But if you’re a finicky viewer who hates trashy films with glaring plot holes, you certainly won’t be pleased by this cheap mystery-thriller that leaves a number of questions unanswered.

In all fairness to the actors, most of them give creditable performances, specially Crystal Fox as Grace. Crystal has done many character roles on TV (notably in Perry’s own series) but here, she’s superb in the lead role as the scorned and deceived wife. We totally sympathize with her from start to finish.

Mehcad Brooks is also very effective as the intimidatingly charming con artist-hunk and it’s easy to see why Grace finds him so irresistible. As for Phylicia Rashad as the double-dealing friend, isn’t there an easier and less messy way for her and her son to hustle some money?

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