An orphan boy of mixed race finds family with the newly arrived white village doctor in Hawaii. The boy can run like the wind, and begins bringing Doc’s medicine to coffee pickers throughout the mountainous region. On an errand, the medicine runner meets the daughter of the plantation owner and a forbidden, young love blossoms like the white “Kona Snow” of the surrounding coffee trees.
Set in early 20th century, Running for Grace features a stellar cast and a strong, dramatic story that focuses on two great themes: true love conquers all, and when life knocks you down 7 times, you’ve simply got to get up 8 times. These are the lessons that a young man named Jo (Ryan Potter) must learn. He was orphaned as a boy and raised by a new doctor from the mainland (Matt Dillon) who comes to work with the locals on the Hawaiian Island. Young Jo is mixed race, called “half-breed” and considered to be bad luck among the superstitious Japanese. When the new doctor, “Doc”, sees Jo treated poorly, he takes him under his wing as a doctor, and embarks on a tireless (and expensive) path to legally adopt him.
As Doc and Jo grow in their communion with the people of this island village, we see a childhood attraction between Jo and the elite businessman’s daughter Grace transform into a grown-up, forbidden love. A love that crosses clear boundaries of culture and class. The performances of Ryan Potter and Matt Dillon draw us into this story through characters who demonstrate selfless dedication to living a life of high integrity. We see the historic battle of discrimination and elitism vs. dedication and love, and we root for Jo and Grace as they face complex issues and dramatic turns of fate.
In those turns of fate, there is excessive drinking by the elitist Doctor Reyes (Jim Caviezel) as well as selfishness and mild violence to create the tension in the story. But these performances generally give us an interesting and emotional family-movie experience as the story unfolds.
The Dove Take
Through sweeping, majestic vistas and powerful scenes, Running for Grace delivers a sweet and beautiful story, rich with drama that gives us another chance for important, timely conversations. We award the movie our Dove Approved 12+ Seal.