Back in January I sat next to Jam-Master Rocchi during a completely packed Sundance press & industry screening of a film called Grace Is Gone. Now, Jimmy Rock and I are perfectly manly men and I'd propose that it's tough to wring a tear or two from our eye sockets. A movie has to really earn that, you know? A lump in the throat or a slight eye-misting, sure, those are common enough -- but James Strouse's Grace is Gone left me with one big goopy tear-drop that just rolled down my left check, and I didn't even care who noticed. (James chose to write the review; mine would have been too emotional.)

The film stars John Cusack as a father of two young daughters. After receiving the horrific news that his wife was killed while serving in Iraq, he's at a loss. He simply doesn't know how to tell the young girls the truth -- so he piles them into a car for a really wistfully amusing and entertaining road trip. That's all I'm saying, but Cusack is simply fantastic, the two young girls are pitch-perfect, and second-timer Strouse (after penning Lonesome Jim) manages a really tough balance between politics and emotion. I suppose this flick could be called "red state friendly," but I'm mostly a liberal-minded guy -- and still I wept. Just a little.

So (courtesy of The Envelope) here's some weird news: We already know that the Weinsteins bought the film at Sundance, and also that the film's been scheduled for an October 5 release date. But here's where it gets weird. Apparently Clint Eastwood saw the movie and was so impressed with it -- that he offered to write and record a whole new musical score! What the...? I mean, it's certainly not strange for Eastwood to score a movie -- he's done it for several of his own films, including Space Cowboys, Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby -- but to step in and offer a new score to an up and coming indie-maker? I mean, it's very flattering and all but...

...what about the film's present score? The one that was recorded by newcomer Max Richter? (You've heard his work in Stranger Than Fiction and very little else thus far.) The Weinsteins and Strouse would probably be pretty foolish to turn down Mr. Eastwood's offer. The film is already positioned for a small award-season push, after all. (And man would I be thrilled to see Cusack nominated for this film. Not only is the guy fantastic in Grace, but hasn't Cusack earned at least one nom by now? Indeed he has, says I.) Tough situation for Mr. Richter, I'm sure. Although I don't mind saying I'm curious to see the movie again with Eastwood's new score.

[ Thanks to Hollywood Elsewhere and Willy G. for the tip. ]