Heartfelt and moving

Category: Dear Frankie Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: August 27, 2004 | Publication: The Metro | Author:
Elaine Harrison
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THE PRESENCE OF Gerry Butler has presumably inspired Miramax to postpone the public release of Dear Frankie until 2005, when his rising star is expected to be further illuminated by his title role in Joel Schumacher's film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom Of The Opera.

Such opportunism is probably sensible - Shona Auerbach's debut feature is a heartfelt and moving film that, despite its small scale and gentle aspirations, could strike a chord with a worldwide audience.

Emily Mortimer plays Lizzie Morrison, single mother of Frankie (Jack McElhone), who moves to a Scottish seaside town with her own mother Nell (Mary Riggans).

To conceal Frankie's lack of a father from him, the women have developed a complex deception: They have told Frankie his father is at sea on the HMS Accra and accordingly fake parental letters to the boy, which Frankie enthusiastically responds to.

But when HMS Accra comes to dock in Greenock, Lizzie and Nell continue the deception by hiring a stranger (Butler) to play the role of Frankie's dad, revealing the need for a father figure they all share.

Although the evocation of Scottish small-town life is initially cloying and sometimes the film threatens to manipulate the audience too much, Auerbach's slight drama is a genuine sleeper success, mainly due to a hidden depth in Andrea Gibb's script that only becomes apparent in the final scene.

It's an emotional sucker punch, after careful work by both cast and director, that transforms Dear Frankie into something well worth writing home about.

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