Dear Frankie (2004) Poster

(2004)

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10/10
Movie-Making Of The Highest Order
Wilfred16 March 2005
I'm somewhat taken aback by a lot of the criticisms of this masterpiece. It is a masterpiece in my view, and that "fact" occurred to me only when examining the cries by the writers here. I found myself dismissing every single one of them without difficulty.

Firstly, I am aghast at those who are not happy with films that produce an emotional reaction on the part of the movie-goer, as if to make an emotive piece of work is somehow limp or uncool or a cop-out. The best films are those that mirror humanity, whether that be in terms of violence committed by Man/Woman to Man/Woman, love, hate, envy, ambition and the others which make up the full range. Let us be clear: any film that deals with pain and heartbreak is not one that is choosing a soft option. How many of us do not feel pain and heartbreak? None of us presumably, so to state the obvious, this is valid ground for the modern writer and director to tread.

The difficulty for the film-maker in 2005 is finding the money to make a piece of work that is not compromised by commerce: to use music, action and dialogue in a clichéd manner to satisfy the warped idea of producers that the masses will only pay money for films that use such devices. Auerbach manages in this movie to almost completely avoid these pitfalls. There is no sex, no bulging orchestral interventions, no truly happy ending. I would however have removed the awful song by the awful Damien Rice and taken the dopey look off Emily Mortimer's face when she realised that the stranger was a decent guy as well as a bit of alright, but these in the end are trifles; for the director makes us emote without manipulation and without using plot devices which strain credulity (I don't care what any of you think).

Critics here are being too cynical. The searing melancholy of Bergman might satisfy them I suspect, but they seem to be missing the fact that there is precious little humour in this movie. The Mortimer character here is almost humourless enough for a Bergman movie, as is the Stranger for the most part, so the criticism of mawkishness isn't remotely credible. The mother is also a fairly grim presence. Auerbach could easily have tweaked her film to emphasise or exaggerate the sense of internal pain of all three leads, but she happily and smartly eschews still shots of these nomadic characters wallowing in their isolation. Instead, their internal lives are displayed with a greater sense of reality. There is a humdrum quality to their lives which is as it should be if a director is shooting for naturalism. Contrast this with Leigh's Vera Drake where for more verisimilitude, there should have been more dirt, more roughness to the people and their homes. True the working class often prided themselves on cleanliness, but in the terraced house in Tottehnam I encountered in the late-50s and early-60s you smell the lack of true cleanliness and see it too.

In terms of characterisation Auerbach also got things right. Far from The Stranger being too handsome, handsome people can be found anywhere, and he's a scruff! Furthermore, the idea that he is Mr Perfect is risible. He is emotionally stunted initially, callous and unfeeling in his first meeting with Mortimer, and for me - not that I know any seaman - is plausibly detached from regular land life. The criticism seems to be that is implausibly seduced by the admittedly dysfunctional family unit. I don't buy that. His inability to relate to the child when they meet for the first time is either perfect or too much, but he's anything like the Disneyland father- manqué some reviewers here are suggesting. Auerbach has him thawing out very slowly. The movie too slow? A slicker 95 minute version wouldn't have allowed this. If some viewers have a retarded attention span that's their lookout.

That the Stranger is won over is not feel-good nonsense, it's entirely believable and well executed. Why? Because the father instinct is in all men. He responds to this splendid child in a way that is merely human. Sure, some men would not have responded, so go on, be cynical, but then there's no film. And if Mortimer's search for the surrogate father seems far-fetched, most of us can tell you miseries that the truth of everyday life is often far stranger than reality.

The denouement is magnificent. I'm rubbish at seeing twists coming in movies, and I saw this one accidentally. My reaction (look away if you've not seen the film) when the child first sees the "Father" was, 'he knows he's not his real Dad.' The direction is brilliant, the acting brilliant or Aerbach got lucky. In the end it doesn't matter; this key scene is superbly subtle however achieved.

There are indeed moving moments. The gift of the sea horse was profoundly affecting. The boy's talking to the Stranger to show how he felt about the crucial surrogate fathering that he's just received could for me also have been very, very upsetting. The direction of Frankie at this moment is fantastic: to keep his reaction under control is how we are: in our lives few lose control, weep hysterically or throw the punch. Frankie doesn't here, so tears us apart.

Finally, the real father: moral ambiguity? Life has many of these moments. I don't agree with the point anyway. Mortimer's reaction to the violent father is beautifully poised between the hard-heartiness part of her wants to show him and the dignified humanity the other part of her wants to reveal.

Such precious, subtle moments make for a tremendous piece of film-making. Fortunately most reviewers here liked the movie. If that weren't the case, we might as well all give up and start praying for the human race.

CWT
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10/10
Perfect
alan.hughes21 January 2005
This was one of the best films I have seen for many years. The photography is absolutely marvellous; it hardly needs anything else.

The acting is restrained, measured and true. I couldn't get much better than this.

It is true that it is emotionally laden but it is not all sadness, there is also humour, affection, and most importantly hope. If you find it too emotional you can always pretend that smoke got in your eyes.

Isn't the function of a good film to try and draw out emotions ? It is especially rewarding when these are positive and natural rather than base and specious.

An easy 10 out of 10
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10/10
A subtly written and acted film
delphine0907 March 2005
I saw the movie last night in Los Angeles - it's only playing at a couple of theaters. Other reviews undoubtedly explain the premise of this film so I'll dispense with that . . .

Folks looking for a lot of exposition or for a film that screams "Hey! Look over here!!", or Gerry Butler fans looking for some of that famous sex appeal should be warned. This film is very subtly written and acted. Much of the story is told on the characters' faces, on what that tells you about what is going on internally within the characters. The characters aren't archetypes (i.e., villain, precocious kid, cynical older woman) but real and complex people who like the rest of us face life without histrionics or mugging for the camera. No plots are hatched but we see choices have been made in increments so that the idea of hiring a "stranger" to play dad does not seem contrived. I disagree that the audience is being manipulated; in fact, what could be a predictable manipulative ending is not, and is left to the viewer to interpret. The film tells you a story but doesn't try to tell you how to feel about it. Even the music is simple and subtle, no sweeping rifts to get your emotions going. It is a quiet film with a good story and people you end up caring about - as if you'd peered into their lives for a few days.
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10/10
Outstanding in every aspect that a movie should be
dorite4him17 October 2004
I just saw Dear Frankie October, 15th and was more than delighted in the film. It is fantastically moving, and even though it is not filmed with enormous 'dramatics', as the blockbuster Hollywood films are, it is so amazingly 'real' - and thus captivating. I heard that the first screening left the actors stunned to wait so long for the standing ovation to subside - I can see why.

The acting is superb, but the story is marvelous. It is a film with a not-so-simple message - one that moves the soul. One moment you are entertained with quick-witted humor, and the next moment your heart fills with compassion. It's simplicity is one of it's main high points and the absence of Hollywood "flash" is refreshing!

Heart-warming and pleasantly humorous - I would recommend it to anyone!

I loved it and plan on seeing it again. 5 stars for Dear Frankie!

Lori
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10/10
Quietly Wonderful
cp-b14 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Dear Frankie is a tender, beautifully realized story of a mother's fierce and loving determination to protect her child. Emily Mortimer gives an achingly true performance as Lizzie and Jack McElhone is remarkable as the sturdy, self-reliant Frankie. Played without a false note, all the characters perfectly convey the challenges of their hardscrabble lives. This film is gorgeous to look at (the director, Shona Auerbach, also served as cinematographer) and the bleak industrial/urban landscape of the Glasgow/Greenock area is like another character. You all know the basic plot outline so I won't go into that. I might, inadvertently, spoil it for you. Instead I'll just go straight into my take on GB's performance as The Stranger.

Still. That is my overall impression of Gerard's performance. The great actors hold your attention during the non-speaking parts of a movie. So many times actors are afraid to be still on film, perhaps equating stillness with being static. Gerard's performance is far from static. Indeed, I am constantly amazed at how much he conveys in the way he holds his body, his little movements of his hands, the turn of his face, and, most notably of course, his eyes. Languid and mesmerizing they speak volumes of hurt and betrayal, hope and resignation. Gerard has few lines of dialog in this movie and he almost doesn't need those. Watch his reaction when Lizzie tells The Stranger how Frankie lost his hearing. Disbelief, pity for the boy, compassion for the mother, rage against the father, all surface in his eyes and mouth and the way he turns his head away and back again. Watch him again in the much discussed doorway scene how hope fights with fear – of rejection, of commitment, of hope itself – before the kiss and how resignation and sadness in parting, perhaps forever, plays across his face as if the words were written there. Watch he eyes during his final wave to Frankie at the window and the sway of his body as it disappears down the street. It is a soft and yet powerful performance. I've said it before and I'll say it here again: Gerard Butler is the most underrated actor in films today. Like DeNiro, Streep and Brando in his prime, watch him when he's silent. He'll blow you away.
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9/10
Beautiful.
cirnelle_telperien26 February 2005
One of the most beautiful films I have ever seen, Dear Frankie is a true hidden gem without the glossy cloak of stardust that you get with so many films. It's definitely in among my favourites.

It has a unique and thoughtful storyline that is portrayed by the perfect combination of actors. There are no superstars or big names, just a group of people who want to make a film that pulls heartstrings which it does successfully. Dear Frankie gives you that rare feeling of sadness and happiness which is hard to forget.

It was a true masterpiece, the most near-perfect film that I have ever come across.It was the only film to ever bring tears to my eyes, which is quite a feat.
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10/10
How naive to think that all movies do not "manipulate"
betut-114 August 2004
I thought "Dear Frankie" was a delightful film. It was supposed to be a tear jerker! I felt the acting was true (especially the work done by the child who played Frankie) and that the story, while fanciful in some portions, was good. In my opinion, the story was about the lengths a parent will go to in protecting their child from the ugliness of the world. Why must films always emulate reality? What is wrong with telling just a sweet, gentle story? Emily Mortimer was great, portraying a woman who had to be strong, yet who was also vulnerable, who was barely holding life together for her son and mother. Jack McElhone was terrific as her son. He was neither a cloyingly innocent deaf "victim" or the smart butt kid typically portrayed in current films. Gerard Butler did a good job of conveying "the man behind the disguise" as his interaction with Frankie progressed. I saw this film at the LA Film Festival, and judging by the audience reaction, I was not the only viewer who was enchanted by this movie. Those of you looking for a gritty slice of life would be wise to avoid "Dear Frankie". But if you want to spend some time in a world were parents DO care and good things do happen to those who are deserving, then this is the film for you.
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9/10
A Heart-Tugging Family Romance
noralee12 March 2005
"Dear Frankie" is a heart-tugging family romance with decidedly non-Hollywood touches that add to its charm and poignancy.

We are swept into both sides of an unusual epistolary relationship -- one between a mother and son, as each takes on alternative identities to communicate, and we get to hear their adopted voices as well.

The son is an isolated deaf kid who won't talk but pours out his heart in letters, while his fiercely protective mother pretends to be his fictional seagoing dad in response. We are drawn into their parallel stories from each perspective, as their defensively claustrophobic relationship has an outlet in this fictional geography as they gradually start dealing with the real world.

Emily Mortimer combines strength and naked vulnerability, as she did in "About Adam" and "Lovely and Amazing," while the son is captivating in an almost mimed role without being as treacly as the kid playing Peter in "Finding Neverland." Debut director Shona Auerbach keeps the movie tethered to reality with evocative use of Glasgow and its active port. We are anchored in a working class bloke territory that becomes a rocky shore for an untethered single mom living with her mother and her kid. This is tellingly symbolized when Mortimer braves a rough waterfront bar.

And then re-emphasized in a hotel tea parlor whose atmosphere electrically changes the minute rugged Gerard Butler pops up on screen. Epitomizing that cinematic manliness that is so talked about as lacking from most American actors these days, Butler's absolutely authentic masculinity instantly telescopes what this mother and child have been missing, and not just his sexual gravitas. Butler movingly demonstrates how a guy's guy plays paternal through such simple things as football, skipping stones, eating and of course dancing.

I don't know if I missed the clues to the concluding twists, but Hollywood would never let these lovely mysteries be, let alone as an achingly long look into each's eyes.

It's nice to see faces from Scottish TV shows in atypical roles, Sharon Small deservedly having a steady boyfriend on screen for a change, and Cal Macaninch, the nice guy from "Rockface" as the not nice guy here.

The Scots accents are thick and I did miss some punch lines in the dialog here and there.

The song selections are lovely, including a Damien Rice track that hasn't been overused yet.
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10/10
What a pure pleasure!
jefmama-112 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I just returned from seeing Dear Frankie, and I am so glad I drove the hour to see it. It was so nice to be able to sit through a movie and not have to wonder which part was real and which was computer generated. The performances were wonderful and pure. Everyone connected with this little gem should be really proud of their individual effort. "Frankie" was wonderfully appealing without being one of those cutsie kids that give you a saccharine high. Emily Mortimer was enchanting, although as one of my friends remarked, she looked like she was forever cold (temperature wise, not personality wise). Every critic of Phantom of the Opera who said Gerard Butler couldn't act should be served up their words with a knife and fork, because he was wonderful in this film. You could see everything he was feeling, going from "I'm in it for the money" to developing real feelings for both Frankie and his mom. I wish there could be a sequel. My friends and I have to believe that Marie will tell her brother (The Stranger) that Frankie's real "da" has died and that Frankie and his mom would welcome The Stranger's return. I would welcome it to, if only to give The Stranger a name!
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10/10
A real charmer
haddocky14 January 2005
Like all the best stories, this one is simple and affecting.

There's not a lot in Lizzie and Frankie's lives to aspire to, constantly on the move and clearly in fear of something. All Lizzie wants is to give Frankie the life he deserves, and in the process she sacrifices her own comforts and happiness. The letters Frankie receives from his 'Dad' (written by Lizzie) afford him the comfort and release of imagining far-away adventures and his replies speak to Lizzie in a clear voice which Frankie's deafness denies him in real life.

The prospect of meeting his father, when his ship comes to town, is Frankie's dream - at last the chance to meet the exotic and mysterious man who loves him so much - and Lizzie's completely unexpected nightmare. How they deal with it, more together than they realise at first, is the heart of the film.

Having painted the slightly depressing picture of a mother and son caught in a life which they wouldn't have chosen for themselves, the film runs the risk of mawkish sentimentality to achieve a satisfying conclusion. This, of course, would only appeal to the most sweet-toothed romantics in the audience. But the film's skill in involving the viewer makes for a rewarding experience and the danger of tears being shed by even the most hard-hearted who see it.
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10/10
A young boy with a hearing disability writes letters to his absent dad.
swanzer7 March 2005
The movie Dear Frankie is a wonderful story about a boy with a hearing impairment who does not speak. The actor who portrays him does an amazing job communicating without words, his need and longing for his father. Emily Mortimer, who plays his mother in a passionate performance, attempts to protect her son from the truth about his absent father. Her struggle with the truth is a difficult road that is lightened slightly by the woman who plays her mother. I enjoyed Gerard Butler's performance as the Stranger. This part for him was a nice transition from the action movie characters he played previously and as the Phantom of the Opera. He brings a broody, stand-offish quality to the Stranger that draws you in and makes you want to see what will happen with the three characters. He may have the ability to become one of those actors that truly can steal your heart with an Oscar winning performance. The movie has twists and turns to completely exhaust those that may have an emotional nature. The movie starts out a little slow but turns into a fantastic, heart warming experience. The setting, in my opinion, does great credit to the movie since the beauty of Scotland can be viewed in its landscape shots of Glascow. In my opinion, Dear Frankie is an emotional roller-coaster that I would ride again and again. If only it would be out in more theaters nationwide.
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10/10
Beguiling
bparker2259 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this at the Tribeca Film Festival last year. I am so happy that it is finally being released!!! This film will beguile you with the sweetest bunch of characters I have ever seen!!! Jack McElhone is a marvel as the little boy, who is deaf. Emily Mortimer brings the strength, fierceness and fragility to her role you would expect of a single mother. Gerard Butler, as the stranger who consents to pretend to be Frankie's dad for a day is simply incredible. There is one scene in particular, so subtle and yet it really speaks volumes. Little Frankie and his "dad" are looking at a sea horse swimming around in a tank. No words, just the look on Butler's face as he watches Frankie! Gerard Butler continues to challenge himself with complex roles and succeeds beautifully. He gives a nuanced, restrained performance that is very powerful. I loved this film. Everyone in it deserves highest praise.
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8/10
A Modern Fairytale
square-peg30 March 2005
The beautiful princess is trapped by the evils in her past, she is icy, almost dead to anything but the need to keep the truth from Frankie, her 9 year old son. But Frankie is smart and resourceful and will save her, as well as any son in a storybook. This is a beautiful film, a fantasy with a stark and realistic background, which can also take your breath away with wonder, as one of the characters comments for herself. The synopsis does not do justice to the stately and beguiling way this tale is told - the shocks and surprises are never gratuitous and the happy ever after ...? Well, that would be telling. Emily Mortimer conveys the paralysis of fear and yearning without any showiness, the spare and well-crafted dialogue tells us a little less than we would like to know, but the suspense is not unpleasant. The supporting players have colour and substance and the man who agrees play the part of Frankie's dad, is portrayed with heart-breaking restraint by Gerard Butler, who after his showier role in 'Phantom of the Opera' demonstrates that his has real and effective range. But the boy is a wonder of subtlety and sincerity. A lovely film.
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9/10
emotionally manipulative, but I don't mind...
notacritique2 June 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Lizzy, is a tough but fragile woman, desperate to protect her deaf son Frankie from the outside world. Constantly on the move to evade her violent ex-husband, she secretly writes letters to Frankie, pretending to be his father on a long stint as a merchant shipman. She does this partly to maintain a sense of hope in the boy, but also it is the only way she can "hear his voice". Complications arise when Frankie finds out that the ship his father is supposed to be on is docking nearby in a few weeks. With the help of an enigmatic "stranger", she attempts to connect the boy with his imaginary father, while staving off the demands of the real father who is dying of undisclosed causes... This could so easily have drowned under the weight of its sentimental script, but for the beautifully restrained performances from the leads. Emily Mortimer is sensational as the vulnerable Lizzie, tough-guy Gerard Butler is smooth as the honourable stranger & they are assisted well by a terrific supporting cast (especially young Jack Mchelhone). Shona Auerbach thankfully ignores the temptation of a conventional ending. Not a dry eye in the house.
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8/10
Eloquently understated little tear-jerker...grounded in reality...
Neil Doyle26 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Bathed in a softly glowing palette of muted colors, DEAR FRANKIE puts three bruised characters in the forefront, surrounds them with believable supporting characters grounded in reality, and takes its time in letting a well-written script unwind as these actors draw you into the story.

The idea behind the story is a simple one of a mother protecting her deaf child by shielding him from the truth about his brutal father. When the son builds up the fantasy of a sea-faring father too busy with his work as a sailor to spend much time with them, the mother invents a surrogate father for a day who will fulfill the boy's wish to see the father who means so much to him through letters (actually written by the mother).

The only shortcoming in the script is giving The Stranger (Gerard Butler) too little screen time. He comes into the story after a good 45 minutes have been spent building up to his entrance and his performance is a well crafted one, sturdy and dependable throughout. His scenes with the boy are tender without becoming mawkish or overly sentimental and have the ring of truth about them. The aquarium scene shows how much he has warmed to the idea of being the boy's father with just a simple close-up of Butler's face watching the child (Jack McElhone), conveying without words the gradual change coming over the gruff man.

But the mainstay of the film are the performances by the female lead, Emily Mortimer and, of course, young McElhone, who carry the first part of the film entirely. There never seems to be a false move or moment between them. The woman's grandmother, Mary Mulligan, is also excellent, providing rough humor but always very real.

A charming musical score provides a nice background touch to the proceedings and the bleak Glasgow landscapes give the film the sort of brooding atmosphere it needs. The ending could have opted for more of a Hollywood touch, but this was avoided and viewers can suppose what they like of the fact that the mother and The Stranger may indeed have a future together when she has time to think about it.

Well worth watching but an independent film not likely to draw a wide audience unless Butler's fans increase its box-office worth. Nevertheless, there are some strong individual scenes that more than make up for the slow pacing and the story maintains interest because all of the characterizations are right on target.
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10/10
A Pair of Sisters
copperclip11 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
CONTAINS SPOILERS!!! Much has already been said about the good acting and cinematography of this fine movie. My remarks concern the story line, which some say was contrived. But I like a well-crafted plot, with interwoven lives that all come together one day to give birth to a great story. This story is crafted, not contrived, by bringing several events into convergence. As the story opens, our heroine Lizzy is moving to a city, right at the time, unbeknownst to her, her estranged husband is actively dying (which is foreshadowed by Lizzy's mother who says--"He must be dead by now!") and a local woman, Marie, notices Lizzy and her son Frankie and hires Lizzy on the spot. We now have a focal point for 3 sets of people: Lizzy, mom and Frankie; Marie and her brother; and Lizzy's husband Davey and his sister, Janet.

To me, there are several interwoven themes to this movie: 1) a person can get a second chance at love; 2) a mother will go to great lengths to protect her child (2 mothers!--don't forget Lizzy's mom); 3) a child is very resilient and observant; and 4) a sister can have unconditional love for her brother. The last theme--of brother and sister--a poignant one for me--is the foundation for the story. And there are not one, but two brother/sister relationships! It's this overlooked theme I'd like to discuss....

First, it is through the efforts of Lizzy's sister-in-law that Lizzy is confronted with both a renewal of the reality of her brutal husband and also the anguish of her sister-in-law Janet who has failed to bring some sort of humanity and peace to Davey in the hospital. In other words, Lizzy is justified in her terror of her husband--not even his loving sister can forge a peace treaty. And Lizzy is assured of an end to her marriage--through death--the only way an abusive relationship like this can end.

The second brother/sister relationship is not revealed until the end, when Lizzy asks Marie who is the stranger--and it's Marie's brother! So all through the early scenes with the Stranger and Frankie and Lizzy, the Stranger is doing a favor for his sister. One can only imagine what she told him to get him to agree to a wacky deal like this; of course, she had to hide her underlying motive, which was to get brother to meet a really suitable woman. Also, we can surmise that there is a family history that Marie can tweak to get her brother's sympathy. If you look at the movie again, you will realize that Marie has immediately identified Lizzy as the perfect woman for her brother--the scene in the stairwell when she "hires" Lizzy. Now if Marie can figure out a way to get them to meet that isn't blatant--hmmmm. And Lizzy drops the method right in Marie's lap! The look on Marie's face is priceless as Lizzy is telling her story (at dawn in Marie's flat). Marie is not so much surprised by the weird situation as she is awed by the serendipity of this opportunity she would never have looked for.

Then, at the very end of the movie after we realize the Stranger is Marie's brother, his performance makes complete sense. No wonder he's so uncomfortable in his first scene. First of all, he doesn't need the money--I did wonder why anyone as well turned out as he would be a sailor and would accept such a job. And secondly, he may be on to his sister's game--after all they've been brother/sister for a long time. But he's reassured at this first meeting--this is a true situation, as screwy as it sounded when his sister told him about it. So he agrees. And, later--falling in love--by golly, he can't accuse his sister of manipulating him, because Marie is covered by the agreement with Lizzy. Wow, what a plot! what acting! Bravo!
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10/10
I haven't seen a movie that touches my heart so much and in so many different places in a long time.
splatt7116 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Gerry's Dear Frankie performance is definitely his best to date. He was truly remarkable. Gerry was so brilliant and you can see how much hard work he put into making this movie and making the character real and believable. The whole cast worked so well together and they all did an outstanding job. I urge all of you to see this movie and to tell your family and friends to see it. I haven't seen a movie that touches my heart so much and in so many different places in a long time.

I would personally like to thank Gerry:

Gerry, I was deeply moved by your performance in Dear Frankie. There were so many moments in the movie that I connected with on an emotional level. I have never cried almost through an entire movie before. I would have to say that my favorite scene is when your character meets Frankie for the first time and he comes up to you and hugs you. I knew exactly how Frankie felt because of similar personal experiences regarding my real father. I am blown away by every movie that you do and just when I think I have seen your best performance, you do an even better job in the next movie. You are so beautiful to watch and a true master in acting.

I urge all of you to see this movie. You wont regret it.
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10/10
Wonderfully written, directed, shot and acted...
somecallmelaz22 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Doesn't often happen all in one movie, but it happened in this one.

Since reading last year about how well received this movie was in Cannes I've fancied seeing it and hopefully it's going to get a huge audience as a result of Gerard Butler's role as the Phantom of the Opera, because it definitely deserves to be seen. It was worth the wait.

The story just sucks you in because with the slow pace we get good character development and you really do feel for the characters straight from the beginning. Even afterwards, you realise there was a lot more character development with The Stranger than you thought at the time and it's a technique which works wonderfully. We don't need to know his name to know the kind of man he is.

The photography is just beautiful and that's saying something because I don't know anyone who'll reply when asked to name a picturesque Scottish location with the answer "Greenock". Yet Shona Auerbach made it so.

All the cast were great. Emily Mortimer plays the part of Lizzie spot on, determined to protect her son at all costs, even if it means he hero-worships the violent father he's never known. She makes the desperate lengths the character is prepared to go to very believable. Mary Riggans was absolutely perfectly cast as Lizzie's mother Nell, constantly moaning to cover up her fears they'll be found. Her comic timing is perfect, too. Gerard Butler was great as the pretend father Lizzie hires for the day, and he made the way this initially rather brusque and businesslike man eventually warms to their family also very believable. The Stranger doesn't have a huge amount of dialogue - for him, actions truly speak louder than words, but so do his eyes, expressions and body language. Gerry Butler is more than just a pretty face, that's for sure.

However, the real stars are Jack McElhone who plays Frankie and Sean Brown who plays his new 'pal' Ricky. Both played their parts brilliantly and their interaction is just wonderful. Keep an eye on those two as future stars, they were fantastic.

Beautiful, moving, funny, heart-warming AND heart-wrenching, this may be one of the best films I've ever seen. I don't see the ending as a cop-out, but as a reward for the previous hundred minutes of drama. It's not a happy ending as such, but it's an invitation to one. One I'm sure the vast majority of the audience will be happy to accept.
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10/10
Gerard Butler Shines in Dear Frankie
kmc_913425 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
No one will have to say that Gerard Butler is the best thing about a bad movie in this case. It really is a very good movie. It is very well written, tugging at the heartstrings with touches of humor throughout the movie, well acted by all and very effectively photographed. I read that the director's past experience is as a director of photography, that she knew where to put the camera – that's very true.

After seeing Gerry's funny, goofy, gregarious appearances on Leno and Ellen this week, his portrayal of the tall, dark, handsome, mysterious stranger is especially powerful. He is so solid, masculine, and strong. Initially, he seems taciturn, forbidding, and shady, but our perceptions about his character change over the course of the film.

The movie could have been saccharine, but it wasn't. They did not go for the cheap moments of deaf boy and long-lost father bonding. The connections between Frankie and the Stranger come about with a gentle, subtle warming and opening of the man for this boy. Gerry communicates that bond with his eyes, expression, posture and presence, more than with words, although the "Who gave you the right?" scene is very pointed in dialog. The kiss scene is also very eloquent, but again without words.

Emily Mortimer is also terrific as is Jack McElhone. Just as with Gerry's character, the script doesn't make these people perfect. Mothers and sons get mad at each other. They make bad choices, but it doesn't undermine the strong affection and bond they feel, the solidarity of their family. The supporting cast of grandmother, Frankie's friends and Lizzie's friend Marie all enhance the story. Much of the humor of the movie comes in the interactions with these more peripheral characters.

Definitely worth seeing.
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8/10
Simple and Touching
mOVIemAN5620 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Dear Frankie is a little known film I came upon while searching through a movie store in my hometown. I rented thinking it looked alright and ended up watching it that night. The film surprised me being how simple it was yet how powerful it ended up being.

Lizzie (Emily Mortimer) is a single mother in Scotland. ALong with her mother, she raises her young, deaf, son, Frankie (Jack McElhone). Trying to hide the past from Frankie - who writes numerous letters to his father who he believes to be out to sea - Lizzie writes the letters back to him posing as his father. But soon Frankie begins to feel completely alone and wishes to see his father.

Lizzie, not knowing what to do, seeks help from a complete stranger who turns out to be a sailor. The stranger (Gerard Butler) is hired to play Frankie's father for one day and boost the boy's happiness. The man does it for the money at first until he begins to like the boy and see how much a father figure means to him. Giving Frankie the understanding her mother couldn't see.

The movie is a top-notch drama. The story telling is simple just a mother trying to give her son the life he should have and ending up bringing her lonely son a surprise to bring joy to both of them. The acting is superb. Gerard Butler is able to portray the loneliness in the Stranger and Jack McElhone is incredible in his role as the lonely deaf boy.

The filming of Scotland is breathtaking and the story flows smoothly along with it. Seeing how the past shouldn't have to haunt people and how hope can come in the strangest ways to those in need of it. I found the film to portray that with a little romanticism on the side that doesn't affect the overall message. The film doesn't use cheesy, unbelievable love scenes or other far-fetched ideas to achieve a happy ending. Instead it works how a normal story would work with regular human emotion and actions. The story ends up being quite powerful as it winds itself into a beautiful, simple story .

Dear Frankie. Starring: Jack MecElhone, Gerard Butler, Emily Mortimer, and Mray Riggans.

4 out of 5 Stars.
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10/10
Steals Your Heart & Gives It Back Three Sizes Larger
kfitzfake5 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I can't really put into words properly all the things I loved about this movie. Everything was absolutely first rate: script, acting, cinematography, soundtrack, the works. I thought it was a much better crafted film than Million Dollar Baby. It made me cry just as much in a more satisfying way because the story makes you feel deeply about the characters and their sorrows but shows them managing to come to terms with them. Without putting in a spoiler, you'll wonder how on earth they could have written a satisfying ending. But you'll love how they leave it, hopeful without going for a hokey happy ending. I also loved the way they explored how to arrive at some form of forgiveness for a truly flawed family member. For anyone who was raised Christian, I think this is a much more thoughtful film about values than The Passion, but that's just me, and I don't want to give the impression that this is a preachy film. It's about feelings and relationships more than moral lessons, and all of the performances utterly draw you in. They're just so eloquently understated, yet powerful. You'll be stunned by the three principal characters, and highly impressed by every single member of the supporting cast. A few climactic scenes will just take your breath away.

I came away so moved that after recovering from the tears, I was hit all over again in the bathroom. And then the feelings were still with me so strongly, I was compelled to go for a walk along the sea to come down from the experience. I think I've only reacted that way to a film one other time in my life. I highly recommend this film and hope it will be widely distributed once they expand beyond the initial select cities.
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10/10
A wonderful film, that does not come around enough...
indigol28 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A beautiful portrayal of love! From the letters to the discovery, a young boy's journey to find a father that his mother has tried to keep alive.

You and your child must continue to flourish in such way as to never lose each other yet as the mother you have to act upon the news that the letters will stop and the child will question what happened to someone that apparently did not exist in the matter that the letters continued to reveal.

The mother must find someone to take upon the role of the one that she created to keep her son's hopes and dreams alive.

Some will view this film and suggest that the mother did nothing but lie. But those that know true love, will know that she was doing the best she could in such troubled times.

Still once you must extend the lie to have someone else take a larger risk you have to solve it all the right way or you will lose both your son and this stranger that has fell into the role of caring for your son beyond what you wanted out of the situation.

This film is such a heartwarming enjoyment that rarely comes to the big screen or even the shores of America.

View, rent, buy it BUT take home this soon to be classic film...
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10/10
I saw the movie twice
nanipua27 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I saw the movie twice and the second time I was trying to figure out how he knew. I think that he put a bunch of things together. Not to mention, his own mom said he was a "master lip reader". Maybe he knew all along. It ended great for me and would love to see The Stranger (Gerard Butler) come back and hook up with this family and be the dad Frankie never had. Then I could see another movie with Gerard Butler. His movies are always great. He was probably the best Phantom I have ever seen. His passion and edge were consuming. Anyway, I think there should be a sequel to Dear Frankie. Americans love sequels. Interested in knowing more about Gerard Butler go to his unofficial website, Gerard Butler.net!!!!
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10/10
A lovely movie with many twists that keeps your attention
trenna-14 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I was expecting a fairly straight forward sentimental movie but this movie is a lot more complex than that.

It seemed to me that all the standard formulas for this movie were sidestepped successfully. You felt sorry for the boy, but often forgot that he was deaf. You can feel the mother's love for her son but its not shown in big doses, except for what she is willing to do for him. You wonder about The Stranger's motivation but the motivations change very soon. The secrets that were revealed made an impact on the viewer and the ending made you want more, but left you imaging the best.

Highly recommended.
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10/10
Dear Frankie: A Rare Find
specialnopickles8 March 2005
They just don't make movies like this anymore. Everything from the acting, to the music, to the cinematography, to the writing is just stellar. This quiet movie speaks to the soul and breathes new life into the independent genre. Emily Mortimer in the role of Lizzie (the mother) shows a fierce protection for her son, all the while looking for someone to protect her. Gerard Butler is heartbreaking as The Stranger, gently melting away the ice surrounding Frankie and his mom. He shows a quiet depth beneath the rugged exterior, all the while remaining a mystery. McElhone is stoic and precious as Frankie. A movie for all who love a good story and a lot of heart.
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