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Obscure film deserves an audience

Category: Dear Frankie News
Article Date: January 20, 2006 | Publication: The Oklahoman | Author: Steve Lackmeyer

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This independent foreign film explores a family's problems.

You've got to love it when you discover a video you've never heard of before, the one just waiting to be given a chance to tug at your heart.

That's what happened with "Dear Frankie," an online rental my wife discovered while cruising the Internet recently. Like a lot of undiscovered jewels, this one just happens to be a foreign independent production filmed in Scotland.

The tale starts with single mom Lizzie (Emily Mortimer) and her son, Frankie (Jack McElhone), constantly on the run. What they're running from, we're not told at first. But things are not what they seem. And even as we hear Frankie speak, we learn others can't.

Confused? Don't worry, the story will all unfold for you. It's one of those stories that can be manipulative, but in a good way.

Mortimer, who played the girlfriend in "The Kid" with Bruce Willis, is great as a mom who sacrifices everything to protect her son. After years of telling her son that his father is far away on a freighter, she scrambles to find a person to play the mystery man when Frankie discovers the ship is coming into a nearby port.

Gerard Butler plays "the stranger" hired to play the missing father, and he does it almost too well for Lizzie and wins the hearts of the single mom and her son.

When the real father re-emerges, will Lizzie and Frankie again hit the road? Or will they finally reconcile with their troubled past?

Like other United Kingdom productions, "Dear Frankie" is in English, but the accents are so thick you might want to use closed captioning to fully understand what's being said.

A couple of mature scenes and some adult language make this a less-than-ideal pick for younger viewers.

First-time director Shona Auerbach did a great job with "Dear Frankie," avoiding cliches in what could have been just a routine sentimental throwaway and giving "Dear Frankie" the edge it needs to keep the audience engaged in a sentimental tale.


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