Twitter has erupted with comments from fans who watched A Fall From Grace, the new Netflix movie by Tyler Perry. Although some critics have accused the movie of using tiresome tropes of African-American women, a lot of people on Twitter liked it very much, especially due to the surprise twist ending and stellar cast (and some thought it was awful). Warning: This article contains spoilers. Many spoilers.
For starters, no, A Fall From Grace is not based on a true story, although there are some previous cases in the news that bear some resemblance to the plot. (Here are 6 ridiculous moments in the movie.)
What’s the movie about? Who’s in the cast? What happens in the ending? Read on. First, here are a couple tweets to give you the flavor of fan reaction:
Here’s what you need to know:
We Are Introduced to Jasmine Bryant, an Initially Jaded Public Defender
The town is obsessed with a murder trial of a woman named Grace Waters. She was accused of murdering her husband. “She totally did it,” a woman says on the radio. That sets up the premise that the movie will focus on a murder case.
The defense attorney, a public defender named Jasmine Bryant, suddenly finds herself assigned to the high-profile and supposedly open-and-shut Waters case. Bresha Webb plays Jasmine. Webb’s film credits include Meet the Blacks (2016), Night School (2018) and Ride Along 2 (2016).
“She wants to plead guilty…get it worked out,” her boss says. As for the casting: He’s played by Tyler Perry himself, somewhat disguised.
This is where we meet Grace Waters, who is played by Crystal Fox. Fox has worked with Perry before. According to her IMDB profile, she played Police Officer Luann Corbin in the series In the Heat of the Night (1988), her best-known role. Since then, though, she has appeared in theater and, in 2013, she played Hanna Young in Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots.
When she meets Waters, Jasmine is thrown off guard. Grace is a disheveled, motherly type who asks about her religion and says she wants to plead guilty. Then, at a gathering, a friend challenges Jasmine on why she’s giving up on the defendant.
Waters’s son, Malcolm, then shows up at the office. “I love my mother, and I know she’s innocent,” he says, announcing she wouldn’t even kill spiders growing up. “There’s nothing I can do. She wants to plead,” says an initially jaded Jasmine (although why she’s jaded so young is not clear).
It looks like the case will end with a plea deal.
The DA says he wants life without parole, and Jasmine Bryant wants 15 years. “She wants to plead, she gets the max,” the DA says.
At this point, we meet the true villain in the movie.
Waters’ Friend Sarah Seems Like a Kindly Woman at First But Is Hiding Malicious Intent
Enter the Cosby mom, the esteemed Phylicia Rashad. Here she is cast as a manipulative con artist, and her silky voice and comforting matronly presence give her character even more malevolence.
Jasmine meets Waters’ friend, Sarah, who is an elderly woman whom Jasmine finds lugging garbage to her curb. Sarah tells the story, painting Grace as a woman scorned who was living in a depressed state and lonely in her middle age.
When her son got married, Grace was “so sad about what she thought her life would be and what it was,” says Sarah. She had a beautiful home and a good job, but her ex husband, “he was living better than she was. His wife was living Grace’s dream.” In a flashback, we see Grace with Sarah looking like a different person. Dressed well, hair done, drinking wine, and complaining that she was a “speed bump” who slowed down her ex. “I want my life back,” Grace says. It’s revealed she works at a bank.
Jasmine, who’s married to a cop played by Matthew Law, starts analyzing crime scene photos and thinks the scene doesn’t make sense. She wants to hire a blood pattern expert. Meanwhile, Waters starts to reveal more, and the movie enters a series of flashbacks. Grace says she went to an art exhibit because Sarah wanted her to get out. The handsome male artist there is named Shannon, and he draws her attention. Then again, whose attention would the muscular, handsome, charismatic Shannon not draw?
Shannon is played by Mehcad Brooks, a former athlete. According to his IMDB profile, Brooks has a series of acting credits to his name. Among them: USA’s 2011 drama Necessary Roughness; True Blood in 2008; Desperate Housewives in 2004; Valley of Elah in 2007; Glory Road in 2006.
Shannon starts flirting with Grace. “I felt like a school girl,” says Grace, narrating this flashback. She reveals to Shannon that she walked into the room and found her husband having sex with his secretary. They go on a date to a diner. It’s revealed her ex owned a mortgage company.
Grace thinks Shannon (Mehcad Brooks) is her soulmate. “I was falling and falling hard.” They talked on the phone until the sun came up, and they fell asleep on the phone. He takes his time with anything physically. Basically, he’s every woman’s dream come true. He asks her to marry him. “He was electric.” They marry, and he brings her breakfast in bed and all of that, the man “of my dreams.” He’s love bombing her.
Grace’s Life Shatters as It Emerges That Shannon Isn’t the Nice Guy He Seems
The first big plot twist that things aren’t as they seem comes when Grace wakes up, and Shannon isn’t sleeping next to her. She goes to find him. He’s talking on the phone. He’s on the phone talking about fireflies. Earlier in their relationship, in their most romantic moment, Shannon had taken Grace to a spot where there are many fireflies. Thus, this is very suspicious.
She demands to know who he’s talking to. Shannon says, “Grace, there’s two things I don’t like. One is being checked up on. The other is being questioned.” We now see that he’s going to be a villainous character.
Things go south at work around the same time. Grace is called into a conference room and is told that hundreds of thousands of dollars were transferred using her account. She’s fired, and the bank demands she return the money (it’s not explained why, in real life, she wouldn’t immediately be taken into custody for such an embezzlement). She says she didn’t do it. “Little did I know it, the worst was left to come,” Grace narrates.
She confronts Shannon, and he has an explanation for everything. He claims he was doing a photo shoot with cancer victims at the spot with the fireflies, not having an affair. Things seem OK, and Grace believes her identity was stolen.
But then she discovers more financial issues. She thought her house was paid off, but it turns out she’s behind in her mortgage, and a big loan was taken on it, and it has her signature on it, and it was notarized. She goes to the notary’s house, and it’s a shabby home with no one there. She goes back to the bank to get video surveillance and that’s when “everything I knew shattered.” Shannon is in the bank video.
She confronts Shannon. “You did it. You went to the bank and took out a mortgage on my house.” He reveals he needed the money.
He turns negative, won’t leave, and even demands an ashtray. The police said there was nothing they could do because it was a civil matter. Shannon is revealed to be a malignant narcissist of the worst sort. Grace even discovers him having sex with a younger woman in her house, but he doesn’t care that she sees and keeps doing it.
As Shannon taunts her, the movie reaches one of its climaxes. Grace takes a bat, comes up from behind, and beats him, seemingly to death, as he sits in the livingroom recliner. “I couldn’t believe I killed him,” she says, narrating the flashback. She calls Sarah and reveals she killed Shannon.
It’s Revealed That Shannon’s Body is Missing
That’s not the end of the twists.
Sarah tells Jasmine she went to the house, and the body was gone. She said she knows he’s dead, but she doesn’t know where the body was.
Jasmine confronts Sarah about Grace’s confession. Sarah says Grace’s son Malcolm was there. She saw him drive away. She went down to the basement but there was no body there, just blood all over the basement stairs. She thinks Malcolm took the body.
Jasmine thinks Grace wants to plead guilty to protect Malcolm and Sarah. She asks her police officer husband to investigate Shannon. However, she also knows she now has a case. Without a body, the murder charge has reasonable doubt.
The trial starts. Jasmine highlights the lack of a body to the jury, arguing that Shannon disappeared. “There are lots of doubts here, and they are all beyond reasonable.” It looks like a good case that Jasmine will probably win – until Sarah sinks it.
Sarah takes the stand. She cracks when phone records are presented showing she had contact with Grace.
“She told me that she killed him,” Sarah tells the jury, a bombshell moment that torpedo’s Grace’s chances at trial.
After resting the case, Jasmine decides to call Sarah back to the stand, but the judge doesn’t allow it because she’s already rested the case. Grace gets convicted.
The Ending Contains a House of Horrors
It’s at this point that we get the real climax of the movie, and its surprise ending.
Jasmine goes to Sarah’s house and discovers an old woman wandering down the street. She’s played by legend Cicely Tyson. She says she doesn’t want to go back to Sarah’s house but Jasmine takes her there. “This is your house. This is where you live,” she erroneously says.
The old woman says: “I want to go to my own house.” She can’t remember where it is at first but then she does. That’s the address on the mortgage documents.
There’s a banging from downstairs in Sarah’s house. “They’re hungry,” the old lady says. Jasmine goes down to investigate what’s in the darkness of the basement.
In the basement, old women are chained up. Jasmine is taken hostage – by Shannon, who is actually alive (although injured from the baseball bat beating).
Sarah comes home carrying a bag of groceries. “Some people never learn,” says Sarah, when she discovers that “Shannon” has Jasmine.
Then the big reveal: He’s Sarah’s son, and Shannon isn’t really his name.
Jasmine’s police officer husband conveniently shows up (it’s not fully explained how he knows to go there, other than a quick reference to Jasmine saying she was going to Sarah’s.) “Where’s my wife?” he says. Sarah tries to send him on his way, but he breaks in. Sarah hits him with a frying pan.
Jasmine’s husband discovers her, but “Shannon” attacks him. She frees herself (also rather conveniently) and shoots Shannon.
A news reporter reveals the details:
Sarah is really Betty Mills. Her son is really Maurice Mills. The duo have been kidnapping elderly women, taking their wealth, and holding them hostage for their social security. He’s wanted for conning at least 16 middle-aged women. They’ve been at this for over 25 years, stealing millions from their victims. He was wanted for bigamy and racketeering.
Waters is freed. However, Betty Mills is on the run. How did she escape? Jasmine’s cop husband basically left her in the kitchen handcuffed to tend to his wife.
The movie ends with a set up for a sequel. Mills is at it again.
A woman asks her, “What experience do you have working with the elderly?”
“I take care of them and I love them, just like they’re my own family,” says Mills, and it’s clear she’s found a new wealthy mark, Luanne, who worked in a financial position but whose family has now apparently hired Mills to care for her.
“Oh my, impressive,” says Mills, learning about Luanne’s former job.
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