Middle-class, recently widowed Grace (a splendid Brenda Blethyn), with the encouragemtn of her gardener, turns to dealing marijuana when she finds herself strapped for cash. Thw whole village is in on it, and Grace sets off to London to sell her crop to one of the big cheeses.
British comedies have always used whimsy as the basis for any film which doesn't want to delve too deeply into the harsh realities of life, and 'Saving Grace' is no exception.
Like 'Waking Ned', which had the audience cleverly willing its protagonists to pull off their faintly crooked lottery scam, it uses its rose-tinted cover to mask its amoral centre - only here we are invited to root for a woman cultivating vast quantities of mind-expanding, illegal drugs in her greenhouse.
That said, there's something rather enjoyable about watching upstanding pillars of the community turn into smalltime criminals, and Saving Grace is constructed in such a way that it's difficult not to condone Blethyn and Ferguson's foray into the world of wacky backy.
Aside from anything else, the concept of a naive, middle-class housewife suddenly becoming a drug dealer has a certain charm, and Nigel Cole's film has its fair share of bright moments, mostly courtesy of Blethyn and her ability to liven up even the most mundane material.
Ferguson is likable too, forging an offbeat mother/son type relationship with his employer (no unbelievable sexual frissons here), grabbing some decent lines and, in the film's funniest scene, introducing Blethyn to the joys of the joint.
For its plus points, though, 'Saving Grace' pretty much retreads the same old Brit movie cliches that have serviced similar films - there are only so many times that bumbling drug dealers, posh, spiky mistresses or (most annoyingly) comedy pensioners getting themselves into twee and unfunny scrapes can work, and here they serve only as a hindrance, while Cole's decision to go for a fantastical finale and tie up all the characters' fates over the end credits is an experiment which goes wrong. For all its niceties, there's nothing new here.
Enjoyable, with a lively turn from Blethyn, but this is twee, cliched stuff that simple retreads where other gentle comedies have gone before.