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Dear Frankie: A DVD Review
Protecting Her Child With A Fairy Tale
Frankie’s mum, Lizzie, has protected him from the truth about his abusive father all his life. She has created a fairy tale that sets his father off to sea on the HMS Accra, and she writes Frankie letters, posing as his dad to support the fantasy.
When a classmate gives Frankie a newspaper clipping that says the Accra will come to port in their town in a few days, it causes problems for Lizzie. She will have to come up with a Dad for Frankie in just a few days.
A Charming Film
Dear Frankie is a poignant, romantic comedy that gives a lovely picture of Scotland. The story is strong, unusual, and absorbing. It paints a nice picture of the relationship between Frankie, his mum, his grandma, the kids at school, and finally the man who is his Dad-for-a-day. Adding to the complexity of the relationships is the fact that Frankie is deaf.
Young Jack McEhlone does a lovely job as Frankie. Although he is not actually deaf, he was convincing enough to fool me until I saw the special features. Having lived within the deaf community in the US and being fluent in American Sign Language, I am familiar with the subtle mannerisms of a deaf child, and this young actor played his part flawlessly.
The only fault I would find with making the character of Frankie deaf is that he was portrayed as the old-fashioned “super-deaf” character who could lip read anyone, anywhere, no matter what the subject matter. People in the deaf community often dislike this kind of portrayal because it is fanciful and gives hearing people the wrong idea about the effectiveness of lip reading. The fact is, that even the best, adult lip reader only gleans about 33% of spoken information from lip-reading, and this is only in the best of circumstances - that is, a quiet room, a person who speaks clearly and normally without unfamiliar accent, mustache or other hindrance, about a familiar subject.
Emily Mortimer is lovely as Frankie’s mother, Lizzie. She is pretty and vulnerable and determined. She conveys the complexity of a woman who has been badly hurt and lives to protect herself and her family. Handsome, rugged, quiet Gerard Butler is perfect as the stranger who is Frankie’s Dad-for-a-day.
A Visual Treat
This heartwarming movie definitely held my interest on every level. The story was interesting and entertaining, the actors were talented and lovely, the music was well chosen and beautiful, and the glimpses of Scotland were captivating. Each scene was beautifully framed. The sets and locations were charming. The color palette set the mood for the story beautifully in earth tones of greens, browns, rust and ochre.
A Happy Surprise
The surprise ending was a complete surprise, and I won’t spoil it for you here. I will say that clues to the surprise were very, very subtle and perhaps nonexistent. When I watched the movie the second time, I saw a few places that I thought might have been intentional hints toward the delightful surprise at the end, but I am not sure if that was not just wishful thinking on my part.
I was happy and satisfied at the end of this movie. I believe this was for two reasons. First, because it is a lovely movie, very beautifully done in every way and a very satisfying story. Second, because it is about a mother who truly goes out of her way to protect her child from an abusive situation and to give him what he wishes for most.
Be sure to watch the special features to get more insight into the making of the film. Also, it is worthwhile to watch the movie with the director’s commentary. This is especially true if you are interested in details about the framing of shots, the color palette, choice of music, and the type of research that was done for various aspects of the film, as I am.