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Dear Frankie

Category: Dear Frankie Reviews
Article Date: July 4, 2005 | Publication:
ZAP2IT | Author: Norman Wilner
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"Dear Frankie" is the story of a young Scotswoman named Lizzie (Emily Mortimer), who hires a stranger (Gerard Butler), for a weekend, to impersonate the absent father her deaf son (Jack McElhone) has never known. And, go figure, sparks fly.

Somebody's probably gagging at the thought of this. But director Shona Auerbach and screenwriter Andrea Gibb have made an unsentimental melodrama, if you can imagine such a thing, nimbly avoiding the sappier side of the genre by respecting their audience and creating characters that don't seem calculated to wring laughs or tears. It just happens anyway.

Gibb and Auerbach's noble intentions are assisted, immeasurably, by their two splendid stars: Mortimer, last seen in "Young Adam" and "Bright Young Things," shows us how Lizzie's instinct to protect herself and her son has calcified over time into something darker; as the man who does his best to break through that barrier, Butler gets to put that "Phantom of the Opera" movie behind him, his considerable charisma unmasked.

The kid's pretty good, too, and he's in almost every scene. But you'll find it much easier to remember Butler's easy charm at a lunch counter, or Mortimer in the film's exquisite final image.

Yes, on paper, the plot might make you wince. But on film, it's close to magical. Trust this movie. It knows what it's doing.

Miramax's DVD is built around an excellent enhanced-widescreen transfer (the granular nature of the Scottish seaside comes across particularly well), and offers a nice selection of extras -- audio commentary by director Auerbach, a selection of deleted scenes (also viewable with Auerbach's commentary), a fairly conventional making-of featurette and an additional interview with the filmmaker. Most of these have been carried over from the UK edition released earlier this year; missing, curiously, is a peek at the film's reception at Cannes and Auerbach's short film, "Seven," a sort of mood study for "Frankie."

 


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