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BETTER TAKE A HANKY TO 'FRANKIE'

Category: Dear Frankie Reviews
Article Date: March 4, 2005 | Publication: New York Post | Author: KYLE SMITH
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FRANKIE Morrison, age 9, is deaf and doesn't speak, but he's far from dumb.

He's a budding marine biologist growing up in Glasgow who pins a world map to the wall to chart the location of his father, a sailor who writes him regularly and whose ship, the Accra, is somewhere off the coast of southern Africa.

Except, as a mischievous schoolmate points out in this weepy Scottish film, the Accra is due into Glasgow in about 10 seconds.

Frankie's mother, Lizzie, who has had no contact with her husband since Frankie was a baby, has been writing the letters all along.

You might call this a teachable moment and cut your losses, but Lizzie (Emily Mortimer, who plays every scene on the edge of tears, and often falls over the edge) figures it's time to hire a real sailor (Gerard Butler) to impersonate Frankie's dad.

He has "no past, present or future," he solemnly informs us. He doesn't even have a name; he's just the Stranger. (Butler was last seen on-screen as the Phantom, the one from the Opera).

Fake father and son skip a few rocks together as a light rock ballad soars. The Butler character grows fond of the little shaver, and maybe a little fond of the lovely Lizzie as well.



Meanwhile, there are clues that Frankie's real dad, whom Lizzie insists is dead, might not be quite as dead as all that. What follows is not entirely free of hugs and tears.

Butler has a quiet, slightly dangerous presence, and he's headed for greater parts. But Mortimer, touching though she is, needn't be quite so touching at all times.

Single motherhood is not rare, and it's extremely not rare in Glasgow. Where's her tough side? "You've stopped living your life," her mother scolds her. "You're the one who's dead." How can she be so glum in a world that offers so many Ben Stiller movies?

The film is soft and sticky, but it deserves a (small) audience. If you're in that peculiar kind of blue mood where you'd like to be just a bit bluer, "Dear Frankie" might be the right choice.

DEAR FRANKIE´´ 1/2OK Scottish weepie.Running time: 105 minutes. Rated PG- 13 (profanity). At the Lincoln Square and the Angelika.

 


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