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I saw this film at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival.
Frankie is the feature film debut of Fabienne Berthaud, who both directed and wrote the screenplay. The film follows Frankie, a fashion model played by Diane Kruger (Troy, National Treasure). The movie jumps back and forth between Frankie's past in the high-flying world of fashion, and the present, when Frankie is in a private clinic after having a breakdown. What seems like a glamorous job is revealed to be moments of action in between long stretches of boredom and loneliness, filled with shallow characters who treat the models more as clothes hangers than people. Only the modeling agency's driver who shuttles Frankie around from job to job seems to have any real empathy for her. Frankie's time in the clinic gives her the opportunity to reflect back on her life and what she wants for the future.
The film has an intimate documentary-like feel, aided in part by Berthaud's use of a single digital camera. There is relatively little dialogue or story beyond documenting moments in Frankie's life. This style might not be for everyone, but it lends a feeling of realism to the images on screen. Diane Kruger gives a very good performance, light years away from her roles in bigger budget Hollywood pictures. She conveys a sense of weariness with the world and the meaninglessness of her life simply through her actions and posture.
Director/writer Fabienne Berthaud was in attendance and did a Q&A: - The film was shot over a three-year period, in bits and pieces. At the start, Diane Kruger wasn't well known as an actress. The original producer did not want her in the film for that reason, but Berthaud persisted, even to the point of losing her financing. As a result, she bought a camera and decided to do the film on her own. Eventually Kruger started getting cast in Hollywood films, but she still came back between movies to shoot her scenes for Frankie.
The film was shot for about 3,000 Euros.
Berthaud had previously done a documentary on the fashion industry,
and thought that it was an interesting subject to show what works in society and what doesn't.
Berthaud has a background as a novelist, and that the relatively
short screenplay is a skeleton on which to hang the performances and the film.
There was a fair bit of working on the fly, as she had to work with a
number of real people with mental issues at the clinic. This meant she had to use the camera as a pen, often going along with what unfolded on screen.
Whether working on films, photography, or writing, it is simply
changing tools for her.
The film had just a crew of three; Berthaud did the camera and
lighting, and she had an assistant and a sound engineer, and that was about it.
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