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Dear Frankie

Category: Dear Frankie Reviews
Article Date: October 7, 2004 | Publication: World Movie Magazine | Author: Lyndsey Steven

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‘We’re moving again.’ Such is the mantra which forms the basis of young Frankie’s life. ‘Nana says if there’s another time, she’ll have to be carried out in a box. Ma says don’t tempt her…’ writes nine-and-a-half year-old Frankie in his poignant letters to his estranged father.

Set in the rugged seaside village of Greenock, Inverclyde in Scotland, Dear Frankie explores the relationship between a mother, Lizzie Morrison (Mortimer) and her deaf son Frankie. (McElhone) In scriptwriter Andrea Gibb‘s own words the film delves into the question: “Is there ever such a thing as a good lie?”

For it soon emerges that the regular replies that Frankie receives to his correspondence, are not from his ‘out at sea’ father at all. But how long can a mother continue to protect her son before her lies come tumbling down upon her?

Rather than see his deafness as a liability, Frankie is a bright, high-spirited lad, at times glibly milking his defect by playing on the sympathy of others. With his mother insisting he attends a regular school, he takes his impediment in his stride, casually correcting the spelling when the ubiquitous class bully writes ‘def boy’ on his desk. Incredulously, he even regards this slimy spiteful sod as one of his mates. Frankie is also the top student in Geography – by painstakingly mapping out his father’s supposed undertakings at sea, he knows every country and it’s capital on his atlas.

Ultimately the truth has to emerge, but Lizzie first attempts to use a decoy – this materialises in the form of the delectable Gerard Butler. (Supposedly one of the many tipped to play the next James Bond, his quiet intensity and brooding good looks in his role as ‘The Stranger’, certainly secures this viewer’s vote.)

Mortimer is convincing as the tough-exteriored yet vulnerable Lizzie and young Jack Mchelhone has the audience eating out of his hands with his spellbinding performance. Sharon Small as Lizzie’s new best friend makes everyone wish they had a pal just like her and, in what’s becoming a more and more popular trend, look out for writer Gibbs’s cameo performance as a waitress.

Thankfully there are no conventional mawkish conclusions, though the stirring story of Dear Frankie is guaranteed to suck you in and leave you bleary-eyed.


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