Dear Frankie (12A)

Category: Dear Frankie Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: January 28, 2005 | Publication: edp24.co.uk | Author: ANDREW CLARKE
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In the hands of a Hollywood studio this would have become a sickly, sentimental mess. But in the hands of first-time Scottish director Shona Auerbach, this tale of a deaf boy awaiting the return of his father from sea is a sharp-edged gem.

Single Mum Lizzie (Emily Mortimer) is always on the move, trying to stay one step ahead of an abusive ex-husband. With her is her son Frankie (Jack McElhone) and her mother (Sharon Small).

The family arrive to start yet another new life in the coastal outskirts of Glasgow. It quickly becomes clear that Frankie, although he is profoundly deaf, is a sharp cookie and despite his transitory lifestyle is very capable in school.

But, like many disabled children, Frankie lacks confidence. His mother tries to hide the grim truth about the family breakup and pretends that his father is away on a ship at sea. Frankie writes regularly to his father and she writes back as his missing father. This has worked well for years but when the ship on which Frankie's father supposedly serves sails into the port, Lizzie has to quickly find a replacement.

After an awful experience in a local pub, Lizzie's friend Maggie comes to her rescue when she introduces her to a mysterious friend (Gerard Butler).

Butler's ship sails on Monday and he is hired to be Frankie's father for one day. But, as is always in these things, the seemingly crusty man is won over by the boy's honesty, integrity and sheer lovableness.

This could so easily have become a Ken Loach tract, but, instead, Auerbach's optimistic eye on the future keeps the film on the right course without ever becoming sentimental or absurd.

An inspiring home-grown romance that proves once again that less is more. Hopefully Hollywood will take note.