by Meanne M. Mijares
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
(2 Timothy 4:7 NIV)
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)
Ryan Potter as Jo
Matt Dillon as “Doc”
Jim Caviezel as Doctor Reyes
Olivia Ritchie as Grace Danielson
Nick Boraine as Mr. Danielson
Rumi Oyama as Miss Hanabusa (film’s narrator)
Juliet Mills as Grace’s Grandmother
Stelio Savante as The Mayor
Cole Takiue as Young Jo
Directed by David L. Cunningham
Written by David L. Cunningham and Christian Parkes
Cinematography Akis Konstantakopoulos
Production company Kona Snow Pictures
Distributed by Blue Fox Entertainment
Genre: Drama and Romance
Set in 1920s Hawaii, the film tells the story of Jo (Ryan Potter), an orphaned biracial boy who’s despised by the people in the village where he lives. But his fortunes shift when he’s adopted by a kindhearted and generous village doctor (Matt Dillon) who puts Jo to work as a medicine runner all over the mountains and plantation fields where his patients live and work. When a series of events brings Jo together with Grace (Olivia Ritchie), the daughter of a rich plantation owner, an illicit attraction grows. Unfortunately, Grace’s father is intent in marrying her off to Dr. Reyes (Jim Caviezel), all the better to fill cash into his troubling financial resources. Or so he thinks.
Love knows no limits. Kindness and care augment the giver as much as the receiver. Storylines about racial discrimination clearly show how damaging it can be, are concerned to its victims. I like how the themes centering on courage and perseverance are presented.
Jo is oppressed and mistreated because of his mixed-race heritage. Dr. Lawrence is a kindly man who loves and accepts Jo just as he is; Jo is a valiant character who behaves nobly. There are other characters portraying monotonous villains, and Grace doesn’t have much to do in her portrayal.
Mr. Danielson and Doc die in non- gruesome but sometimes violent ways; their dead bodies can be seen (they look mostly uninjured). Koji, Mr. Danielson’s accountant takes poison after he’s financially in dire straits and begs to be allowed to die but he doesn’t; another character calls his actions a hara-kiri, an “honorable suicide.” I am wondering what does that mean in the context of suicide in Japan? Should it be seen as honorable? A vendor slaps little Jo who steals a dumpling; another Japanese man knocked out by Doc so he can treat his sick wife suffering from Spanish flu. A young Jo loses his mother, is seen mourning beside her body.
Swearing is rare and included the words “hell,” “damn,” and “bastard.” Many language usage regarding race and class: “half-breed,” “haole,” “Orientals,” “Jap,” “country doctor,” “backwoods country hick,” “Nip-lovers.”
DRINKING, DRUGS AND SMOKING ISSUES
Doc puffs out cigarettes habitually. Dr. Reyes smokes cigars and drives a car filled with liquor bottles, most probably drinking while he drives; out of the car, he slips drinks from a flask. Grace’s grandmother is referred to as “guzzling gin”; she also drinks from a flask. Jo is given alcohol by Dr. Reyes and then disputes his authority figure.
Sexual content in the film is limited to significant looks and a single kiss.
Slow-paced and stereotypical, this story of forbidden but true love in plantation-era Hawaii isn’t without its appealing qualities — mainly, a stellar cast and positively stunning shots and imagery of the island setting. The key problem here is the limitation of the love story keeping Running for Grace together. Yes, Grace and Jo are both young and eye-catching. It’s clearly obvious to see why they’re attracted to each other. But although they swap heaps of glances, they’ve barely spoken barely a dozen of words to each other by the time they hug for the clichéd happy-ending kiss that’s apparently so poignant that the entire cast gushes into tears. This love story is one of my favorites because it is done with good taste and no need for nudity to express their love for one another. The movie presents powerful messages about the evils of racism, as well as the unmatched power of love and underscores the value of courage, perseverance, kindness, and care.
The rest of the plot is no less delicate: Every plot development and character bare is wired ages in advance. It’s clear from our first sight of Dr. Reyes that he’s a con artist who’s up to no good; he might as well be fidgeting his mustache when he casts his eye on Grace. It’s hard to applaud against a story about a loathed outsider who succeeds against all odds through heroic deeds, and this movie does have its heart in the proper place.
Overall, I give the film a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.