I'm somewhat taken aback by a lot of the criticisms of this masterpiece. It is a masterpiece in my view, and that "fact" occurred to me only when examining the cries by the writers here. I found myself dismissing every single one of them without difficulty.Firstly, I am aghast at those who are not happy with films that produce an emotional reaction on the part of the movie-goer, as if to make an emotive piece of work is somehow limp or uncool or a cop-out. The best films are those that mirror humanity, whether that be in terms of violence committed by Man/Woman to Man/Woman, <more>
love, hate, envy, ambition and the others which make up the full range. Let us be clear: any film that deals with pain and heartbreak is not one that is choosing a soft option. How many of us do not feel pain and heartbreak? None of us presumably, so to state the obvious, this is valid ground for the modern writer and director to tread.The difficulty for the film-maker in 2005 is finding the money to make a piece of work that is not compromised by commerce: to use music, action and dialogue in a clichéd manner to satisfy the warped idea of producers that the masses will only pay money for films that use such devices. Auerbach manages in this movie to almost completely avoid these pitfalls. There is no sex, no bulging orchestral interventions, no truly happy ending. I would however have removed the awful song by the awful Damien Rice and taken the dopey look off Emily Mortimer's face when she realised that the stranger was a decent guy as well as a bit of alright, but these in the end are trifles; for the director makes us emote without manipulation and without using plot devices which strain credulity I don't care what any of you think .Critics here are being too cynical. The searing melancholy of Bergman might satisfy them I suspect, but they seem to be missing the fact that there is precious little humour in this movie. The Mortimer character here is almost humourless enough for a Bergman movie, as is the Stranger for the most part, so the criticism of mawkishness isn't remotely credible. The mother is also a fairly grim presence. Auerbach could easily have tweaked her film to emphasise or exaggerate the sense of internal pain of all three leads, but she happily and smartly eschews still shots of these nomadic characters wallowing in their isolation. Instead, their internal lives are displayed with a greater sense of reality. There is a humdrum quality to their lives which is as it should be if a director is shooting for naturalism. Contrast this with Leigh's Vera Drake where for more verisimilitude, there should have been more dirt, more roughness to the people and their homes. True the working class often prided themselves on cleanliness, but in the terraced house in Tottehnam I encountered in the late-50s and early-60s you smell the lack of true cleanliness and see it too. In terms of characterisation Auerbach also got things right. Far from The Stranger being too handsome, handsome people can be found anywhere, and he's a scruff! Furthermore, the idea that he is Mr Perfect is risible. He is emotionally stunted initially, callous and unfeeling in his first meeting with Mortimer, and for me - not that I know any seaman - is plausibly detached from regular land life. The criticism seems to be that is implausibly seduced by the admittedly dysfunctional family unit. I don't buy that. His inability to relate to the child when they meet for the first time is either perfect or too much, but he's anything like the Disneyland father- manqué some reviewers here are suggesting. Auerbach has him thawing out very slowly. The movie too slow? A slicker 95 minute version wouldn't have allowed this. If some viewers have a retarded attention span that's their lookout.That the Stranger is won over is not feel-good nonsense, it's entirely believable and well executed. Why? Because the father instinct is in all men. He responds to this splendid child in a way that is merely human. Sure, some men would not have responded, so go on, be cynical, but then there's no film. And if Mortimer's search for the surrogate father seems far-fetched, most of us can tell you miseries that the truth of everyday life is often far stranger than reality.The denouement is magnificent. I'm rubbish at seeing twists coming in movies, and I saw this one accidentally. My reaction look away if you've not seen the film when the child first sees the "Father" was, 'he knows he's not his real Dad.' The direction is brilliant, the acting brilliant or Aerbach got lucky. In the end it doesn't matter; this key scene is superbly subtle however achieved.There are indeed moving moments. The gift of the sea horse was profoundly affecting. The boy's talking to the Stranger to show how he felt about the crucial surrogate fathering that he's just received could for me also have been very, very upsetting. The direction of Frankie at this moment is fantastic: to keep his reaction under control is how we are: in our lives few lose control, weep hysterically or throw the punch. Frankie doesn't here, so tears us apart. Finally, the real father: moral ambiguity? Life has many of these moments. I don't agree with the point anyway. Mortimer's reaction to the violent father is beautifully poised between the hard-heartiness part of her wants to show him and the dignified humanity the other part of her wants to reveal.Such precious, subtle moments make for a tremendous piece of film-making. Fortunately most reviewers here liked the movie. If that weren't the case, we might as well all give up and start praying for the human race.CWT
Outstanding in every aspect that a movie should be (by dorite4him)
I just saw Dear Frankie October, 15th and was more than delighted in the film. It is fantastically moving, and even though it is not filmed with enormous 'dramatics', as the blockbuster Hollywood films are, it is so amazingly 'real' - and thus captivating. I heard that the first screening left the actors stunned to wait so long for the standing ovation to subside - I can see why.The acting is superb, but the story is marvelous. It is a film with a not-so-simple message - one that moves the soul. One moment you are entertained with quick-witted humor, and the next moment your <more>
heart fills with compassion. It's simplicity is one of it's main high points and the absence of Hollywood "flash" is refreshing! Heart-warming and pleasantly humorous - I would recommend it to anyone!I loved it and plan on seeing it again. 5 stars for Dear Frankie!Lori
How naive to think that all movies do not "manipulate" (by betut-1)
I thought "Dear Frankie" was a delightful film. It was supposed to be a tear jerker! I felt the acting was true especially the work done by the child who played Frankie and that the story, while fanciful in some portions, was good. In my opinion, the story was about the lengths a parent will go to in protecting their child from the ugliness of the world. Why must films always emulate reality? What is wrong with telling just a sweet, gentle story? Emily Mortimer was great, portraying a woman who had to be strong, yet who was also vulnerable, who was barely holding life together for <more>
her son and mother. Jack McElhone was terrific as her son. He was neither a cloyingly innocent deaf "victim" or the smart butt kid typically portrayed in current films. Gerard Butler did a good job of conveying "the man behind the disguise" as his interaction with Frankie progressed. I saw this film at the LA Film Festival, and judging by the audience reaction, I was not the only viewer who was enchanted by this movie. Those of you looking for a gritty slice of life would be wise to avoid "Dear Frankie". But if you want to spend some time in a world were parents DO care and good things do happen to those who are deserving, then this is the film for you.
One of the most beautiful films I have ever seen, Dear Frankie is a true hidden gem without the glossy cloak of stardust that you get with so many films. It's definitely in among my favourites.It has a unique and thoughtful storyline that is portrayed by the perfect combination of actors. There are no superstars or big names, just a group of people who want to make a film that pulls heartstrings which it does successfully. Dear Frankie gives you that rare feeling of sadness and happiness which is hard to forget.It was a true masterpiece, the most near-perfect film that I have ever come <more>
across.It was the only film to ever bring tears to my eyes, which is quite a feat.
emotionally manipulative, but I don't mind... (by notacritique)
Lizzy, is a tough but fragile woman, desperate to protect her deaf son Frankie from the outside world. Constantly on the move to evade her violent ex-husband, she secretly writes letters to Frankie, pretending to be his father on a long stint as a merchant shipman. She does this partly to maintain a sense of hope in the boy, but also it is the only way she can "hear his voice". Complications arise when Frankie finds out that the ship his father is supposed to be on is docking nearby in a few weeks. With the help of an enigmatic "stranger", she attempts to connect the boy <more>
with his imaginary father, while staving off the demands of the real father who is dying of undisclosed causes... This could so easily have drowned under the weight of its sentimental script, but for the beautifully restrained performances from the leads. Emily Mortimer is sensational as the vulnerable Lizzie, tough-guy Gerard Butler is smooth as the honourable stranger & they are assisted well by a terrific supporting cast especially young Jack Mchelhone . Shona Auerbach thankfully ignores the temptation of a conventional ending. Not a dry eye in the house.
"Dear Frankie" is a heart-tugging family romance with decidedly non-Hollywood touches that add to its charm and poignancy.We are swept into both sides of an unusual epistolary relationship -- one between a mother and son, as each takes on alternative identities to communicate, and we get to hear their adopted voices as well.The son is an isolated deaf kid who won't talk but pours out his heart in letters, while his fiercely protective mother pretends to be his fictional seagoing dad in response. We are drawn into their parallel stories from each perspective, as their defensively <more>
claustrophobic relationship has an outlet in this fictional geography as they gradually start dealing with the real world.Emily Mortimer combines strength and naked vulnerability, as she did in "About Adam" and "Lovely and Amazing," while the son is captivating in an almost mimed role without being as treacly as the kid playing Peter in "Finding Neverland." Debut director Shona Auerbach keeps the movie tethered to reality with evocative use of Glasgow and its active port. We are anchored in a working class bloke territory that becomes a rocky shore for an untethered single mom living with her mother and her kid. This is tellingly symbolized when Mortimer braves a rough waterfront bar.And then re-emphasized in a hotel tea parlor whose atmosphere electrically changes the minute rugged Gerard Butler pops up on screen. Epitomizing that cinematic manliness that is so talked about as lacking from most American actors these days, Butler's absolutely authentic masculinity instantly telescopes what this mother and child have been missing, and not just his sexual gravitas. Butler movingly demonstrates how a guy's guy plays paternal through such simple things as football, skipping stones, eating and of course dancing.I don't know if I missed the clues to the concluding twists, but Hollywood would never let these lovely mysteries be, let alone as an achingly long look into each's eyes.It's nice to see faces from Scottish TV shows in atypical roles, Sharon Small deservedly having a steady boyfriend on screen for a change, and Cal Macaninch, the nice guy from "Rockface" as the not nice guy here.The Scots accents are thick and I did miss some punch lines in the dialog here and there.The song selections are lovely, including a Damien Rice track that hasn't been overused yet.
The beautiful princess is trapped by the evils in her past, she is icy, almost dead to anything but the need to keep the truth from Frankie, her 9 year old son. But Frankie is smart and resourceful and will save her, as well as any son in a storybook. This is a beautiful film, a fantasy with a stark and realistic background, which can also take your breath away with wonder, as one of the characters comments for herself. The synopsis does not do justice to the stately and beguiling way this tale is told - the shocks and surprises are never gratuitous and the happy ever after ...? Well, that <more>
would be telling. Emily Mortimer conveys the paralysis of fear and yearning without any showiness, the spare and well-crafted dialogue tells us a little less than we would like to know, but the suspense is not unpleasant. The supporting players have colour and substance and the man who agrees play the part of Frankie's dad, is portrayed with heart-breaking restraint by Gerard Butler, who after his showier role in 'Phantom of the Opera' demonstrates that his has real and effective range. But the boy is a wonder of subtlety and sincerity. A lovely film.
Eloquently understated little tear-jerker...grounded in reality... (by Doylenf)
Bathed in a softly glowing palette of muted colors, DEAR FRANKIE puts three bruised characters in the forefront, surrounds them with believable supporting characters grounded in reality, and takes its time in letting a well-written script unwind as these actors draw you into the story.The idea behind the story is a simple one of a mother protecting her deaf child by shielding him from the truth about his brutal father. When the son builds up the fantasy of a sea-faring father too busy with his work as a sailor to spend much time with them, the mother invents a surrogate father for a day who <more>
will fulfill the boy's wish to see the father who means so much to him through letters actually written by the mother .The only shortcoming in the script is giving The Stranger Gerard Butler too little screen time. He comes into the story after a good 45 minutes have been spent building up to his entrance and his performance is a well crafted one, sturdy and dependable throughout. His scenes with the boy are tender without becoming mawkish or overly sentimental and have the ring of truth about them. The aquarium scene shows how much he has warmed to the idea of being the boy's father with just a simple close-up of Butler's face watching the child Jack McElhone , conveying without words the gradual change coming over the gruff man.But the mainstay of the film are the performances by the female lead, Emily Mortimer and, of course, young McElhone, who carry the first part of the film entirely. There never seems to be a false move or moment between them. The woman's grandmother, Mary Mulligan, is also excellent, providing rough humor but always very real.A charming musical score provides a nice background touch to the proceedings and the bleak Glasgow landscapes give the film the sort of brooding atmosphere it needs. The ending could have opted for more of a Hollywood touch, but this was avoided and viewers can suppose what they like of the fact that the mother and The Stranger may indeed have a future together when she has time to think about it.Well worth watching but an independent film not likely to draw a wide audience unless Butler's fans increase its box-office worth. Nevertheless, there are some strong individual scenes that more than make up for the slow pacing and the story maintains interest because all of the characterizations are right on target.
Dear Frankie is a little known film I came upon while searching through a movie store in my hometown. I rented thinking it looked alright and ended up watching it that night. The film surprised me being how simple it was yet how powerful it ended up being. Lizzie Emily Mortimer is a single mother in Scotland. ALong with her mother, she raises her young, deaf, son, Frankie Jack McElhone . Trying to hide the past from Frankie - who writes numerous letters to his father who he believes to be out to sea - Lizzie writes the letters back to him posing as his father. But soon Frankie begins to <more>
feel completely alone and wishes to see his father. Lizzie, not knowing what to do, seeks help from a complete stranger who turns out to be a sailor. The stranger Gerard Butler is hired to play Frankie's father for one day and boost the boy's happiness. The man does it for the money at first until he begins to like the boy and see how much a father figure means to him. Giving Frankie the understanding her mother couldn't see. The movie is a top-notch drama. The story telling is simple just a mother trying to give her son the life he should have and ending up bringing her lonely son a surprise to bring joy to both of them. The acting is superb. Gerard Butler is able to portray the loneliness in the Stranger and Jack McElhone is incredible in his role as the lonely deaf boy.The filming of Scotland is breathtaking and the story flows smoothly along with it. Seeing how the past shouldn't have to haunt people and how hope can come in the strangest ways to those in need of it. I found the film to portray that with a little romanticism on the side that doesn't affect the overall message. The film doesn't use cheesy, unbelievable love scenes or other far-fetched ideas to achieve a happy ending. Instead it works how a normal story would work with regular human emotion and actions. The story ends up being quite powerful as it winds itself into a beautiful, simple story .Dear Frankie. Starring: Jack MecElhone, Gerard Butler, Emily Mortimer, and Mray Riggans.4 out of 5 Stars.