Dear Frankie movie review, Shona Auerbach, Emily Mortimer, Gerard Butler, Jack McElhone. Review by Rob Blackwelder ©SPLICEDwire
Rent DVDs From NetFlix Buy movies From Amazon Buy Posters From AllPosters

SPLICEDwire content is available for print, web, radio & PDA starting at just $99/month!
A scene from 'Dear Frankie'
Buy movie posters at
Courtesy Photo
"Dear Frankie"
** stars
105 minutes | Rated: PG-13
LIMITED: Friday, March 4, 2005
Directed by Shona Auerbach

Starring Emily Mortimer, Gerard Butler, Jack McElhone, Mary Riggans, Sharon Small, Jayd Johnson, Sean Brown


Personal nature of the story should translate fairly well to home video.

  • Emily Mortimer
  • Gerard Butler

  •  LINKS for this film
    Official siteShowtimes
    at Rotten Tomatoes
    at Internet Movie Database
    Moving performances almost overcome emotional conceits in tender drama about a boy and his fake father

    By Rob Blackwelder

    Sometimes no amount of good acting can make a film hold your interest.

    "Dear Frankie" stars newcomer Jack McElhone as 10-year-old Frankie, a deaf Scottish lad who lives for the letters he gets from his long-absent merchant marine father. The always sublime Emily Mortimer ("Bright Young Things," "Lovely & Amazing") plays his adoring, struggling-class mum who actually writes the letters, having run away from an abusive marriage and lied to her son. Stoic yet revealing Gerard Butler (the Phantom of last year's "The Phantom of the Opera") is a gruff and distant but tenderhearted stranger Mortimer pays to play Daddy for a day when her charade seems headed toward collapse.

    Each of them has an affecting and genuine presence that gives the film heart, but its plot is motivated more by emotional conceit than by real-world sense -- the practical upshot of which is a naive story arc that inspires more dubious reservation than engaging empathy.

    Director Shona Auerbach does a fine job of capturing the overcast grayness of dockside Glasgow, where Mum and Frankie have just moved into in a small apartment with her mother in tow. She allows her actors to find every nuance of their roles, and Mortimer gives a remarkable performance, exposing her character's deep vulnerability (when the stranger takes a genuine shine to Frankie, she takes a shine to the stranger) while still trying to be strong for her son.

    But Auerbach doesn't seem too concerned with any of the character's motivations. If Mum took Frankie into hiding when he was just an infant, why make up a story about his father at all? It's not like the kid would miss him, she's not a very good liar, and the more complicated the illusion becomes (largely for the sake of a creating more plot), the worse it will hurt the boy when the truth inevitably comes out.

    Or so it seems. Trying hard to be a feel-good movie despite its melancholy heart, "Dear Frankie" has an all too easy resolution for the mother's deceit (and the son's gullibility), and it's such a contrivance that in the end, even the film's strong foundation of emotional veracity is called into question.

    Buy from Amazon
    More new releases!
    or Search for

    powered by FreeFind
    SPLICEDwire home
    Online Film Critics Society
    All Rights Reserved
    Return to top
    Current Reviews
    SPLICEDwire Home