Hello my lovelies, it’s time again for another installment of Monday Movies and this week I’ve chosen the incredibly moving film Dear Frankie, starring Gerard Butler, Jack McElhone, and Emily Mortimer. Somehow, and I still don’t know quite how, considering the types of movies I generally watch, I was unaware of this film’s existence until a little over a year ago when the bestie and I saw a preview for it on another DVD. Apparently Dear Frankie was released in 2004, but no one I know ever got the memo; I guess it’s a little known treasure that really needs to be seen by the general populace. Needless to say, the bestie and I embarked on a search to find this movie and watch it for ourselves (the trailer was just amazing) and finally last week I discovered it on YouTube. After she forked over the rental fee, the bestie and I sat back and waited (and hoped) to be amazed…and we were!
Dear Frankie is one of those films where everything is just superbly done, the cinematography, the story, the acting, the EVERYTHING, and it leaves you breathless and perhaps a bit teary at the end. (That last letter…OH MY GOODNESS…the tears!) Personally I whimpered throughout the entire thing, but like I’ve said before, I’m a notorious crier when it comes to films, I can’t help it – I mean, every time Frankie said “Da” I about lost it. And thankfully, it wasn’t just a one-note film: there was a great deal of complexity and comedy, a dash of romance, suspense, warmth, and just so much more. It truly runs the emotional gambit. Emily Mortimer’s portrayal of a mom trying her hardest to protect her son was emotionally spot-on, I constantly felt her fear, angst, worry, and the all-encompassing love she had for her son. And being a serious fan of Gerard Butler, I have to say this may be my favorite movie of his now, just the way his character interacted with Frankie touched my heart. Though, I think Jack McElhone’s depiction of Frankie stole the movie from these other great actors; really, he was amazing!
The premise of the movie is this: Frankie, his mother, and his grandmother are almost constantly on the move, they settle into a place for a time and then leave whenever they (the mom and grandmother) feel it’s necessary, (the movie explains why but I’m trying to avoid spoilers, though in all honesty I’m probably going to give something away later…just because I want to give my two cents on the subject). Frankie’s father is noticeably absent, but almost all of the narration is Frankie talking to his father through letters which he faithfully writes and has sent to the ship at sea where his father supposedly works. Frankie, we learn, is deaf, so his narration is the only way the movie-watcher gets to hear his voice and inner thoughts, and incidentally, it’s also the only way his mother gets to hear his voice, as she is the one who receives these letters and she is the one who writes back, pretending to be Frankie’s father. Why the deception, you may ask, well you’ll find out later.
Anyway, Frankie has a giant map in his room with which he tracks his father’s ship as each new letter explains where the ship is now and what it’s like in this new place and through the letters he bonds with a father he can’t even remember. And after a bet (involving his treasured stamp collection that contains all the stamps his father has sent him from across the world) is made at school involving a bully, Frankie learns that his father’s ship is heading back to Scotland and he hopes to finally see his mysterious father. Frankie’s mother then leaps into frantic action, she can’t let Frankie down, and so she goes about “finding” him a father, sort of like hiring a daddy-for-a-day. Gerard Butler ends up being that man. So Frankie finally gets to meet the father he loves so much and over the course of two days, Gerard realizes just how special Frankie and his mother are.
Now, I don’t want to give away the ending, so I’ll stop my synopsis there (though I will say the ending is more hope-inspiring than the cathartic release I was expecting). I went into this movie hopeful but unsure and left cheering. Frankie completely captured my heart, as did the rest of the characters, and I just couldn’t believe how well done this movie was. It was simply superb! And although elements of the story were a little fantastical, it didn’t feel that way, everything came across as really realistic, especially the scenes we see of Frankie’s real father.
*Spoiler Alert* These scenes chilled me to the bone and I was incredibly glad they were few and very brief. Having personally experienced mental abuse, I could completely relate to the grandmother’s near constant panic and the mother’s reluctance to let her guard down with such a man as her ex. The scene where the father is so apologetic and charming and then completely lashes out the moment he is denied something he wants, wow…trust me, it’s very realistic and it left me clutching my chair with quite a bit of force.
So if you’re one for semi-heartwarming tales of family, love, and the unpredictability of life, I’d say definitely give this movie a try! I also advise bringing some tissues, just in case you’re anything life me (seriously, I whimpered/sniffled the entire length of the movie)! If you have seen Dear Frankie, what did you think? Did you tear up a bit, or were you stoic on the outside but a complete emotional wreck on the inside? Let me know what you think!
(Next on the must find and watch list is: Adam, starring Hugh Dancy. Sooner or later, I’ll find this film and I have high hopes for it!)