Filmed only in five days. Writer, director and producer Tyler Perry returns with his newest film “A Fall From Grace”. A legal, murder thriller that plays to his strengths as a writer and director. His shift from social drama to violent and volatile thriller is a shocking one. It’s a lurid treat of a thriller, with sharp turns that will have you leaning back and grasping your chair with tension. The twisty tension filled thriller is led by excellently strong performances from the films entire terrific cast. Veteran actress Crystal Fox leads the pack in her first leading lady role. She nails every scene she is in, to prove she should have been a leading actress decades ago. This is Tyler Perry’s first Netflix film and “A Fall From Grace” joins his films, “Acrimony” and “Good Deeds” as his strongest and very best work to date.
The movies of Tyler Perry is a love it or hate it kind of give or take. Whether you love his films or not, you have to give the guy props for the empire he has created from ground up. Perry has created stage plays, tv shows and movies. Always serving as the writer, director, producer, star and probably even has a hand in editing all the way down to the catering.
Perry is such a successful mogul, that in 2015 he built Tyler Perry Studios, a 330-acre lot located in the heart of Atlanta on the historic grounds of the former Fort McPherson army base. The major motion picture studio is one of the largest production facilities in the country. Featuring forty buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, twelve purpose-built sound stages, with 200 acres of greenspace and a diverse backlot. Perry is known to shoot an entire movie at an unheard of pace, anywhere from a week to a whopping five days.
I personally enjoy the work of Tyler Perry. While his comedies, especially the Madea films are up and up. With some of his written jokes sticks and some fall flat, their still enjoyably fun. As a writer and director, Perry shines the best in his dramas and thrillers. I highly recommend my Tyler Perry favorites: “Acrimony”, “Good Deeds”, “Temptation: Confessions Of A Marriage Counselor”, “For Colored Girls” and “Daddy’s Little Girls”.
His 2018 thriller “Acrimony”, starring Taraji P Henson is still my favorite of his filmography. His newest film “A Fall From Grace”, easily ranks right up there with “Acrimony” as his best work as a filmmaker and screenwriter. “A Fall From Grace” was shot in one of his fastest turnarounds in just five days. Shot just before Christmas at Tyler’s Atlanta-based studio lot.
One of the biggest accomplishments of “A Fall From Grace”, is it’s star Crystal Fox who has been in the game a longtime. She made her feature film debut as Katie Bell in “Driving Miss Daisy” and was a regular role on the TV series “In the Heat of the Night”. She currently has a supporting part in the Tyler Perry produced tv series “The Haves and the Have Nots,” and gave a chilling performance as Zoe Kravitz’s mother on HBO’s “Big Little Lies”.
Fox has never been given the opportunity at a leading role before. She’s front and center in Tyler Perry’s very first Netflix film, the legal thriller “A Fall From Grace” and she nails it every step of the way. Kudos to Tyler Perry for giving her this chance. Fox brings warmth, vulnerability and grace (no pun intended) to the role, despite the increasingly extreme circumstances her character endures through the film.
When we meet Fox’s Grace Waters, she’s behind bars and being accused of murder. Although Grace is a pillar of the community, evidence leads to everyone in town being convinced she did it. Actress Bresha Webb is spectacular as Jasmine Bryant, a 26 year old in the public defender’s office who has been assigned the case by her gruff, no-nonsense boss Rory (played by Tyler Perry), who wants nothing but to bury the case.
Jasmine has never actually tried to take on a case, but the more Jasmine talks to Grace, the more Grace opens up and the more Jasmine wonders if there’s more to this case. We as the audience learns about the events of the case right along with Jasmine shown in flashbacks and Grace providing voice over narration.
Grace has never recovered from her husband divorcing her seven years earlier for a younger woman. She has a great job at a bank that’s allowed her to buy her own house, but she’s long past the point of believing she’ll find love.
“The Cosby Show’s” Phylicia Rashad plays Sarah, who is Grace’s best friend. Sarah encourages Grace to live a little, and she’s particularly encouraging when Grace meets Shannon played by an outstanding Mehcad Brooks, who’s a half generation younger than Grace and is instantly smitten by the photographer with chiseled muscles and a playboy smile. He’s a real charmer, this guy. Of course we know where this is headed…yep you guessed it. He isn’t the sweet guy she thought him to be. From there on things just get worse of Grace.
For a film shot in five days, the production values are impressive. As are the universally strong performances from the films cast, including veterans Cicely Tyson and Phylicia Rashad. Tyler Perry’s shift from substantive social drama to violent and volatile thriller is a shocking one and “A Fall From Grace”, encapsulates the essence of that Tyler Perry touch. It’s a lurid treat of a thriller, with sharp turns you might see coming and at least a couple that will leave you gasping and grasping your chair with tension. Perry saves most of it for the big finale, while it had me hooked I felt that Perry could have had easily pushed the envelope even further.
While it’s available to watch at home through Netflix streaming, this is the kind of movie that’ll be way more enjoyable with an audience. As Perry brings us so many opportunities to scream at the screen, especially as the movie reaches its twisty, increasingly insane and satisfying climax. Now that Perry has called it quits on Madea, I can’t wait to see the many more films like “A Fall From Grace” to come from the helmer.
GRADE: ★★★1/2 (3 & 1/2 out of 5)