On a recent Tuesday night, I went to see The Grace Card , which you may recall was filmed in Memphis and has been running in theaters here since late February. It follows a middle-aged white cop, Mac McDonald, who's fairly toxic with rage and sorrow over the death of his son 17 years ago. When he's paired with a black cop, an act that stokes his fury, Mac's on the verge of seeing his whole life unravel if he can't get a grip on himself. The moment of reckoning comes when he shoots a would-be burglar at a warehouse, then realizes the victim is his other son — a boy Mac has barely been able to look at without guilt and anger for most of the child's life. The movie had me weeping with genuine sorrow one minute — and rolling my eyes at a plot twist the next. Sure, it's flawed, but aren't we all.
What you gotta love are the Memphis landmarks — from the gritty Tennessee Brewery right down the street from our office, to St. Francis Hospital's ER. And for me, a nudge-my-husband moment came during a scene in the hospital's waiting room. Mac's black partner, Sam Wright, has been wheeled in to surgery to donate a kidney to Mac's son. (Yeah, Sam just happens to be a match.) As Sam's wife sits with her young daughters to wait out the operation, what magazine does she pick up to pass the time? You guessed it. Memphis. Nice touch. The movie deserves praise for a feat too few even attempt: portraying the lives of middle-class people and their Christian values without wielding a sledgehammer with too heavy a hand. The Grace Card won't win Oscars, but no doubt it has won some hearts.