151 of 157 people found the following review helpful
Lizzie (Emily Mortimer), the single mother of a 9 year old deaf mute boy, Frankie (Jack McElhone), moves her family to a tiny family in Glasgow. Her mother, Nell (Mary Riggans) announces that if they move again, it will be the last time for her. As Frankie acclimates to his new school, his mom continues about her routine. She travels by bus to a post office box and retrieves the letters that Frankie writes to his dad, a sailor that has been traveling around the world for years. She writes the letters back to her son, pretending to be the long missing father, purchasing stamps from around the world, concocting fictional travels and making up the name of his father's boat. One day, Frankie learns that his father's boat is due to dock at the Port of Glasgow. Immediately, he has doubts that his father will even want to see him. Lizzie decides to try to hire someone to play his father. Her friend, and boss, Marie (Sharon Small) helps her find "Davey" (Gerard Butler, he also played the Phantom in "The Phantom of the Opera"). Davey is hired to spend one day with Frankie, `before he has to ship out again'. Growing attached to the boy, he offers to spend another day with mother and son.
"Dear Frankie", a new Scottish film directed by Shona Auerbach, is a really great little gem that you should definitely seek out. Playing at a handful of independent theaters, it will slowly roll out to the rest of the country. If you are unable to find it at a theater, catch the DVD when that is released.
The beauty of "Frankie" is that every character seems real, like someone you might meet on the streets of Glasgow. Emily Mortimer plays Lizzie as a young, single mom who has had a hard life. Her one joy is her son, who is very intelligent, but a deaf mute. Because of the circumstances or her life, which we slowly learn as we watch the film, Lizzie has become withdrawn and feels she can only rely on her mom and son. When she meets Marie, she is reluctant to begin a friendship. But Marie realizes that Lizzie needs the friendship and offers her a part time job at the local chip shop and helps her in other ways. Her mother is a woman that has had her equal share of hard times, but she is trying to get her daughter out of the funk she is living in while protecting them at the same time. Little Frankie is also played in a very natural way by Jack McElhone. In films, children tend to be too precocious or too `adult'. Frankie is neither. As we learn more about him, we see that he is intelligent, shy, interested in a girl in his class and easy to bait into bets by another young boy in his class. His very existence and the letter writing have ensured that he will have an active imagination. But his mother has also helped him develop a strong interest in sea life and all other aquatic areas. Naturally, a little boy who has never met his father but receives regular letters from him will do whatever he can to learn more about his father's world. The walls of Frankie's room are lined with hand drawn pictures of sea life, a map of the world with pins marking the locations of each of his father's letters and more.
The part of `Davey' is a difficult one to pull off. Butler brings an air of desperation to the character in the beginning. I mean, why else would a grown man agree to portray a kid's dad for a day, for probably 20 pounds, except that he is desperate for cash. As he spends time with Frankie, he realizes what a great kid he is. Thankfully, the emotions aren't `big' like they might be in a Hollywood film. He comes to this realization slowly. At the end of the day, when he asks Frankie and his mom to spend the next day with him, it makes sense. We believe that `Davey' has actually grown fond of Frankie.
The key to this film is that everything is believable and natural. Nothing is played for theatrics or over the top emotion.
As the film winds to it's natural climax, we begin to feel the emotion that the characters are feeling and this makes the story all the more powerful and moving.
72 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2005
Because Miramax saw fit to bury this movie and spend zero dollars on advertising, anyone who wanted to see it had to track it down. I didn't think I would get a chance to see it in a theater, but it finally came to a small theater 75 miles from me. My family and I made the trip and it was certainly worth it. From the wonderful, haunting piano music at the beginning to the final credits, it was a thoroughly enjoyable movie. The story has been described elsewhere. I will just say that all the actors gave phenomenal performances. I had never seen Emily Mortimer before, but she was great. Gerard Butler has to be one of the most underrated actors today. He can express more with facial expressions and his eyes than most actors can with their whole bodies and loads of dialogue. The young actors were all good. I especially like Frankie's little girl friend. The Scottish locations were picturesque and evocative. Like I said, there are lots more accessible movies out there, but there are few that are worth the film they are printed on. Dear Frankie is heads and tails above most rubbish in the theaters today. Do yourself a favor and track it down. It is worth the trouble.
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2005
I've purchased many items from Amazon based on reviews. The beauty of the net is you'll most often get the unbridled truth. So here's mine: If you're looking for a sweet, finely-crafted and moving story, get this one.
I admit it. I'm crazy about Gerard Butler. What I didn't expect was a story that had me in tears at the end. Emily Mortimer and Jack McElrone are superb as the mother & son. I particularly loved the supporting characters and the remarkable locations. As Americans, we rarely get such a telling glimpse into Scottish life and I was mesmerized.
Gerard Butler was perfectly cast as The Stranger. It is an extremely restrained role compared to the romantic heroes he has played and will be playing in the future (The Phantom, Attila, romantic lead in Tomb Raider2 and the upcoming Beowulf and Burns) but he brings it off superbly. He is an exceptionally fine natural actor, completely fresh and unspoiled, and I cannot wait to see him reach global stardom. In my opinion, he'll be another Sean Connery or Mel Gibson - a man every woman wants and a man every man wants to be.
The story resolution of Dear Frankie is not your typical Hollywood ending, but it's poignancy will touch your heart.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2005
I was hooked from the piano melody under the opening credits. Lovely, and as the film progresses, the music makes a quiet statement about what we are experiencing on the screen.
Emily Mortimer as the Mother who will do almost anything to protect and nurture her child; and Gerard Burtler, as the Stranger she hires to pretend to be her sons father 'for just one day' are outstanding. With their eyes, body language, understated gestures, they portray more meaning and emotion than 9 out of 10 actors working today.
The story is of a mother who has been writing letters pretending to be her sons sailor father on a journey to far off ports on a ship called the Accra, a name she made up. Now, the real Accra is to arrive in the seaside village they live in and she must find a man to pretend to be the father 'for just one day.' The interview between Mortimer and Butler is outstanding. Very few words, but we understand the desperation of the woman, and the disinterest but decency of the man.
The boy is played to perfection by Jack McElhone.
This is a quiet, heartfelt, gem of a film and I am glad I went across town to see it after hearing about it for months. The DVD will be in my collection. 9/10
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2005
To tell you how good this movie was....I couldn't wait for it to come out in America, I ordered it from the UK (Didn't know it wouldn't play on my DVD player!)....Discovered it could play on my computer!! The performances by the actors have you participating in their feelings and emotions as the story unfolds. The ending is surprising and leaves one hoping that a brief revelation near the ending will open the door for the future. I think the big distributors really flubbed up by not picking up this movie. I truly hope all the principal players would be "up" for a sequel...This movie is entertaining, something for the whole family...Buy it and be prepared to love each character.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2006
I watched this movie on an airplane and was surprised by how captivating it was. It was an overnight flight to the UK and my intention was to keep my headphones on to drown out the noise of the other passengers. But I found myself drawn in and could not stop watching this movie. Other reviewers have given you the gist of the story and all the great performances, so I won't bother. But I will just say that this was an incredibly wonderful movie that I was not expecting to enjoy, and yet I did. Days after I returned from my vacation, I was still thinking about this movie and the characters in it. It just stays with you. Very very good movie.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2005
I first heard of this film when I rented another video, and Dear Frankie was in the previews. I looked in my local newspaper to see when it would be coming out but after a few months, I gave up. Then the day of my birthday as I was skimming through the Today section of my newspaper, I saw an add for it. So I went to go see it with my mother. I can honestly say, it is one of the best movies that I've seen. The characters are down to earth and can easily be related to. The set was not distorted by any Hollywood gimics, rather, it looked like any small town in Scotland. The storyline was not overly sappy. It had exactly the right amount of all of the elements which make a good movie. The acting was superb. It's one of those films that you just fall in love with and want to watch over and over again.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2005
I will not start with the usual plot synopsis, as other reviewers have already done that. I will just say that this is a beautiful and touching film, brought to us by a very talented cast. The nine year old boy playing Frankie, Jack McElhone, is just amazing. As the director, Shona Auerbach points out, since this is a silent part (Frankie is deaf), all of Frankie's acting has to be done through body language and facial expression. And Jack does this superbly. You hardly realize he does not speak throughout the movie, since his face and his gestures speak so much and convey so many emotions.
The relationship between Frankie and the stranger who is hired by his mother to play his father for one day is very believable and very moving. The stranger, a sceptic at the outset, becomes emotionally involved and while at first he does not think much of Frankie's mother for doing this, ends up respecting her and so do we, the audience. Personally, I felt I did not like Frankie's mother at first, as her motives seem unclear. We learn about her motives with the stranger, and that's when sympathy shifts.
I was also particularly impressed by the stranger's emotion in the scene where he meets Frankie: he needs to be believable, and he is very tense wondering if he has done well. I felt the tension with him. Gerald Butler is wonderful, looking handsome, tall, and reassuring, the father figure Frankie really needs.
There are so many touching moments I will let you discover for yourselves, as I don't want to spoil it for you. I will just say that the entire movie is full of twists and turns, much more than you'd expect. In the second half a surprise awaits in virtually every scene to the very end , and I also cried at virtually every one of these scenes.
"Dear Frankie" is filmed in Scotland, and features some beautiful scenery. I also enjoyed listening to the Scottish accent used throughout the film.
The additional material includes the director's commentary, an interview with the director, which I found quite interesting, and some deleted scenes, one of which at least actually reveals some insight into one of the minor characters. I'm thinking it's particularly clever to cut such a scene in the official release, and then add it to the deleted scenes section on the DVD, although I'm not sure this was intentional.
I enjoyed the movie, and I'll certainly want to rewatch it. Even though I now know about all the twists and turns in the plot, it will actually be interesting to follow the range of emotion displayed by this talented cast with all this pre-knowledge in mind.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This is my favorite kind of movie - a quiet, sensitive film that hasn't gotten a lot of hoopla, that not a lot of people have heard about. I heard it reviewed by Roger Ebert when it first came out but forgot about it then saw it on my Netflix recommendations and knew I needed to see this right away.
I read somewhere this movie was described as "wise and wondrous". That is an understatement. This tender, poignant, sweet movie is so perfect I can't for the life of me understand why it hasn't been talked about more or why it didn't win all sorts of awards. The scene with Gerard Butler and Emily Mortimer walking along the quay after the dance had me in tears as Frankie's Mom opens up to the stranger she has hired to be Frankie's "Dad".
And as if all this weren't enough - it has the magnificent Gerard Butler. This is a movie I will always remember fondly - like an old, dear friend. In addition, it has a wonderful soundtrack. A movie that can movie me to tears. It doesn't get much better than this
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2006
Glasgow, where this movie is set, is a tough, industrial town. The handful of characters in this minor masterpiece are just making it, each one trying to endure the injustices life has dished out. Lizzie (played by the irresistible Emily Mortimer) and son Frankie, are engaged in a sophisticated ritual that insulates them both from the pain initiated by Frankie's father. We are never quite sure how completely Frankie believes the mythology about the letters, although it is certain that he desperately wants to believe.
With the arrival of the actual ship his father has allegedly been working on comes the inevitable end of the masquerade, and with it, some long overdue growth. The stranger, (Gerard Butler), who Lizzie has hired to impersonate Frankie's father, brings tremendous quiet dignity to the role, and his interactions with Lizzie have an understated power that electrifies the screen.
Beautifully shot, brilliantly acted, this is one of those truly rare movies worth owning and watching more than once. Dear Frankie is not remotely sentimental, but it does enrich your soul. These are real, three-dimensional people doing their best. You will care about all of them and hope desperately that things work out. Movies like Dear Frankie remind you that film is sometimes an art form, not merely a vehicle for product placement.