It's clear from the start of Tyler Perry's new Netflix movie, A Fall From Grace, that it's going to have a couple surprises — if only because you don't cast Cicely Tyson and then only show her peeping around a corner. She had to come back, and when she does, things take a major turn. If there's one reason to watch A Fall From Grace, it's the ending. Actually, that's the only reason to watch A Fall From Grace. This movie isn't good — the script is absurd, the lack of attention to detail is distracting — but you will want to see where it goes.
Warning, this is where the spoilers start.
Before we get into how it all shakes out in the end, here's what we're working with: A woman, Grace (Crystal Fox), in a Virginia town is accused of murdering her new husband, Shannon (Mehcad Brooks), and wants to plead guilty, her only request being that she's put in a prison near her son, Malcolm (Walter Fauntleroy). Her case goes to public defender Jasmine (Bresha Webb), who is told by her boss (Perry) that she's just supposed to get the plea signed and submitted and be out of there. The thing is, Jasmine suspects that Grace didn't really kill Shannon, even though Grace confesses to bashing his head in with a baseball bat. She also explains that she did it because he was an emotionally abusive con artist, who stole her identity and controlled her life and finances while having sex with another woman in her home. Grace says she pushed Shannon's body into her basement, but that the body was removed and never found, with only his blood serving as DNA evidence. It's hinted that either her son removed the body or that her best friend Sarah (Phylicia Rashad) did.
Why Jasmine doesn't decide to argue self-defence or a lesser charge isn't explained. It's not even said what degree of murder Grace is facing or how she was turned in. Instead, Jasmine just convinces Grace — who, as far as anyone knows, is a confessed murderer — to go to trial where she will argue her innocence.
This is where things get wild.
After deciding that her key witness is Sarah — who Grace told Jasmine she already confessed to and who may have removed the body and who has been sketchy this whole time — Jasmine and the prosecutor question her. When the prosecutor explains that she could be found guilty of perjury, Sarah says that Grace killed Shannon.
At closing arguments the next day, Jasmine tries to call Sarah back to the stand again and refuses to do anything else, so the judge holds her in contempt of court and puts her in a holding cell. Grace is found guilty, and as she's lead out of the courtroom, she notices that Sarah is wearing a necklace that belonged to Shannon. Suddenly, she realises that they must have been working together. It also seems like Sarah may have planted phone record evidence that would get Grace convicted. She's sneaky, that Sarah.
After being released, Jasmine decides to go visit Sarah to check on her post-trial. Instead, she finds a woman named Alice (Tyson) attempting to flee Sarah's home where Jasmine has been lead to believe she is a tenant. Alice tells Jasmine she's trying to go to her own home, and Jasmine, thinking Alice is confused, takes her back to Sarah's house where Alice explains that Sarah holds old women hostage. Jasmine goes to the basement and finds a dozen women chained up. She's not simply going to exit the home, though, and tell everyone what happened, because Shannon is back (and, well, not dead) and ties Jasmine up and gags her. Also, Sarah is Shannon's mother — surprise!
Meanwhile (lots of meanwhiles with this movie), Jasmine's cop husband, Jordan (Matthew Law), gets an alert that Sarah is wanted for fraud, presumably because Grace... convinced authorities that the women who sealed her fate as a convicted murderer is actually the one who is guilty? That makes sense. So, Jordan goes to Sarah's house, where he's able to handcuff Sarah, and finds Shannon and Jasmine in the basement. (As soon as Jordan leaves the room, Sarah leaves the house, still in handcuffs. This is important.) Shannon and Jordan fight, Shannon drops his gun, Jasmine is able to free herself from her restraints, and she shoots and kills Shannon. For real this time.
Next thing you know, we're watching a news reporter explain that Shannon and Sarah are actually Maurice and Betty Mills and that they've been scamming people for years; elderly women for their social security and middle aged women like Grace for other fraudulent reasons. They've made millions of dollars. What do they use it on besides this one sports car Maurice/Shannon bought? No idea.
Leaving the court a free woman, Grace is asked by a reporter how it feels for everything to be over. "It ain't over," she replies. That's because Betty/Sarah is still on the lam. Somehow. In fact, she has a new wig and is applying for a job working with an elderly woman, no one the wiser.
Is this setting up a sequel? Simply a dramatic ending? Is this movie just bananas? We didn't even talk about how it starts with a different elderly woman jumping off a roof. Or how multiple lawyers think a woman baking cookies is a solid defence for her not being a murderer. Or how Perry's character says Jasmine must be such a bad lawyer because she's a millennial. Or how Sarah leaves her stove on after boiling water — that one's not part of the plot, just a production error.
There's a lot to take in with this movie, but if you were confused by the ending, all you really need to know is: Sarah's a bad guy, Shannon wasn't really dead, and Cicely Tyson gets her screen time.