Dear Frankie

Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Emily Mortimer, Gerard Butler, Sharon Small, Jack McElhone
Director: Shona Auerbach

Frankie (Jack McElhone) is a deaf nine year-old boy living in Scotland with his mother Lizzie (Emily Mortimer) and grandmother. They are always moving from town to town to avoid Frankie’s father but as far as Frankie knows his father is a sailor on the HMS Accra and he receives letters from him more or less on a weekly basis. The truth is that the letters are actually written by Lizzie, who then painstakingly seeks out foreign stamps to attach to the letters before she posts them to a very eager Frankie. The point of reckoning comes when it turns out that the HMS Accra is set to dock at the very town that Frankie and Lizzie are currently living in. Unable to tell Frankie the truth Lizzie desperately seeks an alternative solution and with the help of her boss finds a willing stranger (Gerard Butler) to masquerade as Frankie’s father for the weekend. As the weekend goes on though Frankie, Lizzie and his supposed father find each of their lives begin to change in very different ways, forever.

Shona Auerbach does a splendid job at directing this moving tale about the love of a mother for a child and indeed the love of a child for its mother. These two main characters are sufficiently developed and all the supporting characters are given enough room to add to the tale. The pace of the movie is steady but it does not aim to be more than it is and this is what allows the film to be an emotionally involving light drama with some added romance.

Emily Mortimer gives a very convincing performance as a single mother whose past experience with a man affected her and her son so badly that she feels compelled to continually move from place to place to deny Frankie’s father any contact with them. She convincingly portrays the guilt she feels of lying to her son, but believes that the lies are ultimately better than the ugly truth.

Jack McElhone as Frankie puts in a good performance as the youngster who desperately wants to see his dad yet also understands his mother much more than she could ever imagine. However the icing on this lovely cake is Gerard Butler in a supporting role as the stranger who surprisingly agrees to be a dad for a weekend and finds himself affecting the lives of the mother and child much more than he expected and with repercussion for himself. His performance is just right, not too dramatic and not too mellow.

All in all this is a neatly crafted movie that will leave you with a huge smile on your face!

4 out of 6 stars

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