Saving Grace (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Stuart Galbraith IV
  • Review Date: Feb 29, 2024
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Saving Grace (Blu-ray Review)


Nigel Cole

Release Date(s)

2000 (December 12, 2023)


Fine Line Features (Warner Archive Collection)
  • Film/Program Grade: B+
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: A
  • Extras Grade: B-

Saving Grace (Blu-ray)

Buy it Here!


Saving Grace (2000) is a pleasant little comedy of the type the British generally do well, most famously with films from Ealing Studios in the 1940s-‘50s but also its imitators, including some early Peter Sellers films (before he became an international star), the early Carry Ons, etc. The tradition continues, albeit sporadically, into the 1980s and beyond with Bill Forsyth’s Scottish comedies, Waking Ned Devine, and others. Such films avoid American-style broad slapstick in favor of affectionate, light satire, movies populated by mildly eccentric characters, and often work from a single outrageous premise. Saving Grace falls neatly into this class of film.

The picture will also interest fans of the long running (2004-2022) television series Doc Martin, as Saving Grace marks the first appearance of that title character played by Martin Clunes, though he bears little resemblance to his later TV characterization.

Brenda Blethyn (Secrets & Lies, TV’s Vera) stars as Grace Trevethyn, newly widowed, who discovers that her unfaithful, irresponsible but much-loved husband has left her upwards of half a million pounds worth of debt. Desperately trying to save her Cornwall home, she hatches a scheme with longtime gardener, Glaswegian Matthew Stewart (Craig Ferguson, of late-night TV fame), to save it: grow an enormous crop of marijuana in her greenhouse and sell it to a London drug lord.

Matthew, being something of a pothead himself already growing weed on the church grounds of the Rev. Gerald Percy (Leslie Phillips) to enjoy with his friends, including local Dr. Martin Bramford (Clunes), embraces the scheme. However, Matthew’s longtime Scottish girlfriend, fisherwoman Nicky (Valerie Edmond), has just learned that she’s pregnant, and opposes the idea, fearing her boyfriend will be arrested.

The movie was shot mostly in the same locations, namely Port Isaac, in Cornwall, as the subsequent Doc Martin TV series, and instantly recognizable. Like the series, the town is populated by mildly eccentric types. Phyllida Law (mother of Emma Thompson) and Denise Coffey play proprietresses of the general store, who mistake Grace’s weed for tea, drink it, and become deliriously high. Ken Campbell plays a seemingly dim-witted constable much more observant than everyone realizes. Leslie Phillips, who for decades specialized playing rakish ladies men always on the make, is amusingly cast against type as a clueless vicar who enjoys watching late-night horror movies on television. (He’s seen tuning in to a Christopher Lee Dracula movie.) Late in the story we meet a low-level drug dealer (Bill Bailey) awed by Grace’s cannabis; and a suave French underworld figure (Tchéky Karyo), whose threats of violence Grace bravely faces down. Their gradual admiration of one another is one of the picture’s many appealing qualities.

The film has a pleasant attitude toward marijuana use, that all the characters who indulge, deliberately or accidentally, have pleasant, even delightful (and essentially harmless) experiences. (As of 2024, cannabis remains illegal to grow, possess, or distribute in the U.K.) For the movie, real marijuana, provided by and apparently under heavy guard from the British government, was used for close shots.

One presumes Martin Clunes’s popularity on the TV series Men Behaving Badly rather than his character here prompted Doc Martin, as his doctor in Saving Grace, while mildly amusing, is no scene-stealer and, in any case, was completely reworked into an entirely different persona for the TV show.

Warner Archive’s Blu-ray of Saving Grace is presented in its original Super 35 2.35/2.40:1 aspect ratio. The image is appropriately sharp with bright color, with much the same sunny look as the Doc Martin TV series. Audio is DTS-HD Master Audio (5.1 surround) with optional English subtitles.

Extras consist of a trailer and two somewhat redundant audio commentary tracks: the first with director Nigel Cole and screenwriters Craig Ferguson and Mark Crowdy (who also produced), the second with Cole, Ferguson, and star Brenda Blethyn.

Saving Grace isn’t a great film but it is a diverting, pleasant and amusing one with a game cast doing fine work. Recommended.

- Stuart Galbraith IV