Dear Frankie

There's a lot of films out there that people never hear about. There's all those Disney releases for one thing: Pinocchio 2, Cinderella 2, Bambi 2 (really, there's a Bambi 2). And then there's the films that snap into the theatres and then snap out again. And then there's the films that you only hear about from the previews on the DVDs you rent. And some of these films are terrible. And some are uh, okay (you can see why they weren't big hits) and some of them are real gems.

Dear Frankie falls into the real gem category. It's this tender little story that takes place in Scotland. It stars Sharon Small who also plays Detective Lynley's sidekick and a woman who looks like the actress who plays Detective Lynley's wife, so at first I thought it was a Detective Lynley reunion, but in fact the second actress is Emily Mortimer, not Lesley Vickerage. There's an excellent child actor, Jack McElhone, who has this fantastic ability to express a range of emotions just by cocking his head and raising his brows. And Dear Frankie stars Gerard Butler, who also plays the Phantom but looks entirely different in this movie. Granted, most people look different when there isn't a mask covering up half their face, but he seems a lot darker (and oddly enough, taller: I think it's the clothes) than in Phantom. It doesn't take long to pick up that it's the same bloke, however. He has this kind of triangular face and possibly the sexiest mouth in history, meaning his lips, not his voice, although his voice is sexy too, but hearing his (real) voice helped me understand why his Phantom singing voice confused me a bit. He's singing with a BBC type British accent laid over a northern England/Glasgow accent. It isn't bad, mind you, just puzzling.

I'm not going to talk about the plot of Dear Frankie because it is one of those movies that I actually wish I hadn't known the premise going into (although I probably wouldn't have rented it otherwise). But the movie has a gentle, unwinding quality about it, where you are revealed certain facts at certain times, without fanfare, and I'd hate to spoil that.

What you do need to know is that it is a love story (where love encompasses more than romantic love: not less, just more) and has a quiet, whimsical quality about it. I kept expecting, because I've been inundated with so many similiar plots, for the bad guys to show up (whoever they were) or for some hideous secret to be revealed (a la Phantom) or for a huge argument to ensue. Kind of like My Big Fat Greek Wedding where you keep expecting some terrible event to prevent the marriage from taking place, when, in fact, the movie is capable of keeping your interest without resorting to histrionics. Dear Frankie is the same. It's about good people, truly good people, who are good without being sentimentalized.

I don't necessarily mind histrionics, by the way. See my post below about Phantom and my much earlier post about Jason Bourne. But now and again, it's nice to see a movie that doesn't kill people off or throw people in jail so you will learn how gritty and tough life is. I find it so much more interesting to watch people dealing with gritty and tough gracefully, which is what Dear Frankie is about. (And despite the too-good-to-be-true aspect of Butler's character, it actually makes psychological sense, when you think about it.)


1 comment:

Mike Cherniske said...

I agree that there really is a lot of junk out on the shelves and in the theaters today. As for Bambi II, I stand by my convictions that direct to video sequels are apocryphal. But there are some real gems, hard to find but they're there. I've recently been awakened to French film (yeah, sounds silly, but there are some great ones). "The City of Lost Children" (by the same director as "Very Long Engagement" is one of the most original Sci-Fi’s I've ever seen. "Wasabi" is also a French film, and incredibly fun (the best action movie I've seen in a long time). While both movies are in French, they can be watched with subtitles for the uneducated (like me) and even English for tracks those of you who like to watch a movie as opposed to reading it. Many of the great moves bomb for one reason or another (I firmly believe it's because most people don't know how to react to anything but explosions, fart jokes and reality TV, but that's just me). Serenity and Sky Captain were two such movies. They were original, funny, and refreshing in our age of "well, let's go see Mission Impossible 37." Serenity was so fresh and original I was finally able to imagine what it might have been like to see star wars for the first time in a theater. As for a solution to this rather disturbing trend? No ideas. But more and more it seems our only two options are mass suicide or open rebellion (personally, I favor the rebellion).