Grace of My Heart

* * * 1/2*

Intriguing drama about the music world of the 50s, 60s and 70s. Grace of My Heart tells the story of Edna Buxton (Illeana Douglas), the daughter of a Philadelphia steel magnate who wins a singing contest in the 1950s, and travels to New York to start a singing career. Unfortunately, the music studios aren't looking for more women singers, which were losing popularity at the moment. So, Edna instead opts for a songwriting career at the famous Brill Building, under the tuteledge of Joel Millner (John Turturro). He becomes her manager and mentor...one of the first things he does is change her media-unfriendly name to Denise Waverly. Under his guidance, she begins to churn out a long line of hits, but still longs for that singing career of her own. The film accompanies her through the 1970s, analyzing the changing musical styles and the changing men who are in and out of her life (including Eric Stoltz, Bruce Davison, and Matt Dillon). Grace of My Heart is a treat to watch. It is filled to the brim with good characters, and plenty of period detail. Illeana Douglas is a standout as Edna/Denise, giving a rich performance at the heart of the film. The film stumbles a bit when Denise tries to start her singing career. It's not that the songs are bad...it's the all too obvious lipsynching. Director Allison Anders manages to immerse the audience into the music world of the 50s-70s, and makes it a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

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