Frankie (McElhone) has been writing to his father for almost
three years and he has been writing back, telling him tales as he travels
around the world, working for the Merchant Navy. But what Frankie doesn't
know is that it isn't his father that is responding to the letters but his
mother, Lizzie (Mortimer) who is protecting him from the abusive man they
have been running from for years. Lizzie plan has been working really well
until Frankie finds out that the ship his father supposed to be on is going
to dock in their town and he is expecting to see him.
The British film industry can do some things really well and
character-driven drama is one of them but does 'Dear Frankie' have enough
to endear itself to you?
This quaint, Scottish tale has all the trappings of a good
social drama, as the film will bring a smile to your face and a tear to
your eye. 'Dear Frankie' is a nice movie, plain and simple that reflects
modern family problems with a positive look on life. The film tackles the
issues of single parent families, growing up without a father, child abuse
and doing what you think is best for the well being of your child. These
are all issues that have been approached before but this movie combines
these in an enlightening and uplifting way.
Central to the success of the film is the performances of
the small ensemble cast. Leading the group is an excellent central performance
from the very underrated Emily Mortimer. After making waves in 'Young Adam'
and 'Bright Young Things', Mortimer gets her chance at a leading role and
she takes it with both hands. This is an assured and confident turn from
her and shows a growing confidence in her craft. As Lizzie she is both vulnerable
and strong, making so many sacrifices to keep her son happy. As Gerard Butler
continues to make waves in larger budget Hollywood vehicles, he returns
to his Scottish roots to play a stranger that comes to the rescue of a desperate
woman. This is another assured performance from an actor who should be getting
more acclaim. There is also good support from Sharon Small as Lizzie's new
Stealing the show is the performance of young Jack McElhone
as Frankie. Playing a deaf boy who refuses to speak, McElhone portrays more
emotion in a look than many seasoned actors can in with a full page of dialogue.
He makes the character very endearing and you what him to be happy, just
as his mother does.
'Dear Frankie' is a good movie that deals with some sensitive
issues in a very nice way. It is a film you can't help but like, even though
other movies have covered the same type of subject matter with a more gritty
approach, this still gets its point across but not too heavy handedly. With
some standout performances and a conclusion that will warm even the coldest
heart, 'Dear Frankie' is another example of a fine Scottish film.
PICTURE & SOUND
Presented in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen with a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
soundtrack, this is an excellent transfer. Shona Auerbach's heart-warming
tale looks beautiful via a very sharp picture that is crystal clear throughout.
The sound is also good, strongly emphasising dialogue but never really
filling your speakers with sound.
Entitled 'Father & Son', 'Fate', 'The Aquarium', 'Lizzie meets Marie',
'Bar', 'Marie's flat, Lizzie confesses', 'The dance' and 'Ricky is bullied',
these deleted scene have optional commentary by director Shona Auerbach.
Shona Auerbach Interview (13.07 mins)
The director of 'Dear Frankie' reveals how she became involved with the
film and what attracted her to the story. She talks about her biggest
challenge in directing the film, describing what the film is about and
how she cast the film to suit the characters. The director discusses her
favourite scenes and what it was like been a first time director. This
is a good insight into small budget filmmaking from a talented newcomer.
Trailer (1.55 mins)
Watch the theatrical trailer for 'Dear Frankie'
Short Film 'Seven' (17.45 mins)
Inspired by Shakespeare's 'Seven Ages of Man', the film describes a woman's
life as she relives the seven roles she has played as a grandmother, wife,
mother, lover, sister, daughter and baby. This award winning short film
reveals director Shona Auerbach's early promise.
Shona Auerbach provides an informative and interesting commentary for
'Dear Frankie'. She talks extensively about the casting of the film and
how she wanted to create believable characters. The director also reveals
the amount of research that went into the film, especially about Frankie's
deafness. She also talks about the look and style of the film and what
she wanted to bring to the story and characters. This is a good commentary
from an up and coming director.
For a low budget Scottish movie, Pathé have done a good job with the
DVD transfer of this low budget film. The commentary track, interview
and deleted scenes are good but the real bonus is the inclusion of the
short film 'Seven'. For fans of the movie this is a good package and for
those of you who missed the film on the big screen, 'Dear Frankie' is
well worth checking out.
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