|Release Date: August 17th, 2018 (Mainlands)|
Release Date: July 20th, 2018 (Hawaii)
Running Time: 1 Hour, 50 Minutes
Genre: Family, Romance
Directed By: David L. Cunningham
Written By: David L. Cunningham & Christian Parkes
Production Company: Kona Snow Pictures
Distributed By: Blue Fox Entertainment
The film is set in the Kona Coffee Belt of Hawaii during the 1920s. Japanese immigrant laborers and the white upperclass live in a rigidly classist society. Jo (played as a child by Cole Takiue), an orphan of mixed-race lineage (hāfu), finds himself ostracized by both groups until Doc (Matt Dillon), a white (haole) doctor from the mainland, is hired as a physician for workers on the plantation owned by Mr. Danielson (Nick Boraine). Doc has Jo run medicine and translate for him on the island.
Ten years later, Jo (played by Ryan Potter) falls in love with the plantation owner’s daughter, Grace (Olivia Ritchie). They interact a few times at the Danielson’s home under the guise of treating her ankle injury. Mr. Danielson meets a new doctor, Dr. Reyes (Jim Caviezel), and invites him to tend to the white upperclass residents of the island, even as his company is going bankrupt. Throughout this time, Doc has been taking several secret trips to see a lawyer in Hilo about formally adopting Jo, even though it was illegal at that time to adopt a mixed-race child. Jo at first is impressed by the new doctor and his car, a Ford Model T, and asks him to take him on as an assistant. However, when they go to treat Mr. Danielson’s accountant, who had poisoned himself as a suicide attempt, Jo realizes that the doctor is a charlatan. Dr. Reyes later expresses a romantic interest in Grace, and her father, seeing it as an opportunity to save his plantation and way of life, encourages the proposal.
Mr. Danielson sets out on a trip to Hilo to discuss his looming bankruptcy with the bank, intending to inform them that Grace is marrying into a wealthy family. Along the way, he accidentally falls into a ditch and hits his head. Doc and Jo are the first to reach him and, on inspection, Doc fears Mr. Danielson’s head injury is severe. He tells Jo to find Dr. Reyes so that they can use his motorcar to transport him. At his home, Mr. Danielson and his mother (Juliet Mills) insist Dr. Reyes treat his injury and that Doc and Jo leave. Moments later, Grace comes crying out of the house announcing that her father is dead. Grace’s grandmother and Dr. Reyes watch Grace and Jo embrace, and Grace’s grandmother scolds Grace and pulls her away.
That night, Doc and Jo are walking back to their house. Along the way, Dr. Reyes purposefully chases them in his car and tries to run them over. Doc manages to push Jo out of the way, but gets hit himself and dies shortly afterward. Dr. Reyes threatens to kill Jo if he doesn’t leave town. Later, Jo returns to his mother’s house and is found by the Hilo lawyer who informs him that Doc’s adoption was a success. Jo runs to the scheduled wedding between Dr. Reyes and Grace and asks for her hand in marriage. Grace’s caretaker of several years, Miss Hanabusa (Rumi Oyama), approves the proposal and informs everyone that Mr. Danielson was bankrupt.
- 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
- The movie was originally known as “Jo, The Medicine Runner” before it was changed to Running for Grace.
- The film touches on multiple subjects despite being set in 1920, such as diversity, identity and adoption are still relevant today.
- Running for Grace was filmed on location in Hawaii.
- It was released on July 20th, 2018 in Hawaii in select theaters, where it had one of the biggest openings for Hawaii.
- The United States Congress has recognized the entire cast and crew of Running for Grace.
- Ryan fell in love with the island while filming.
- The Danielson’s house is known as the “Kona Mauka Clinic” on the islands.