Dear Frankie: movie review

15 Feb
There are times, and yesterday was one of them, when nothing in the whole world will do but to sit on the couch, chocolate preferably in hand, and watch a movie. Me being me, I chose to watch one that takes place in Scotland because it is my favorite pseudo-happy place in my brain, regardless of the fact that I have never been there. (Would that ruin it though? Quandary!) So, last night I got my cozy on while watching Dear Frankie, a supremely fantastic movie which I implore anyone to GO and WATCH.

Released in 2004, this stars a pre-mega-famous Gerard Butler and Emily Mortimer, who holds a very dear place in my heart for being the voice of girl Sophie in Howl’s Moving Castle. Mortimer plays Lizzie, a single mother who shuffles her young son and mother from town to town to avoid her ex-husband. At first you don’t know what he did, but it’s all kinds of bad. Lizzie takes a job in the local fish and chip shop, run by the sassy Marie, who befriends Lizzie. Lizzie’s son Frankie is smart and funny and sweet, and significantly deaf. Gerard Butler, playing The Stranger (no joke, he doesn’t get a name, and if you watch the movie, you’ll see why), comes in when he is hired by Lizzie to pretend to be Frankie’s father for one day. You see, in order to protect Frankie from the truth about his father, Lizzie has made up a story that his father is a sailor, and she writes letters to Frankie posing as his father. Unbeknownst to her, the ship she made up is actually real and is coming into port in their town in a week. Hence, the need for a stranger to pretend to be Frankie’s dad.

You guys, I don’t know if I did a good enough job summarizing the movie, because it’s not as romantic comedy and hijinksy as it sounds. It’s slow, and quiet, but builds to loud crescendos at times. Dear Frankie takes place in a rather rough-and-tumble town in Scotland, and the cinematography is just beautiful, all greys and beiges and dark greens. Lizzie is heartbreakingly real, with uncombed hair and big eyes, and she tries to hide her vulnerability with a brick wall between herself and others. Frankie is played by Jack McElhone, who I can’t remember having seen in anything else, but he does a magnificent job portraying someone who can’t hear – there’s nothing “different” about him as a person or how he interacts with others. He just can’t hear. As for Gerard Butler, he’s pretty dreamy in this film and lets his Scottish accent fly. I haven’t been impressed much with the string of romantic comedies he’s been in in recent years, but he was wonderful in this movie, really understated.

If you get a chance, rent this bad boy. It’s heartwarming without being cloying, and it doesn’t tie up in a nice, red bow at the very end (though I think there’s hope). Here’s a trailer to give you an idea of the misty, drizzly, wet wool feelings I get from this movie.

Note: if you have trouble understanding the thick Scottish accents at first, never fear. I got used to it after a bit.

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