Dear Frankie (Shona Auerbach). 102 minutes. Opens Friday (March 25). For venues and times, see Movies, page 91. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
They say there are seven basic plots in the world of storytelling, a fact that Hollywood execs have used as a justification to keep making the same old films the same old way.
Lucky for us that Dear Frankie was made in Scotland. This could have been a paint-by-numbers pic about poor deaf Frankie missing his daddy, mom Lizzie hiring a mysterious sexy stranger to play Pop and everyone living happily ever after.
Fresh-faced Emily Mortimer plays Lizzie. Her understated performance and world-weary features work perfectly here as a woman escaping the ex-husband she's told son Frankie ( Jack McElhone , a real find) is a sailor away at sea. To protect her lie, she's been writing Frankie letters from his dad for years; Frankie gets a loving dad, and Lizzie's given the rare gift of hearing her mute son's voice.
When a kid at school bets Frankie his father doesn't want to see him, Lizzie knows it's either tell the truth or find someone who can pretend to be his dad. Enter sexy stranger Gerard Butler , making up for his recent Phantom miscasting.
From here, the already insightful story takes off, the script throwing us a decidedly anti-Hollywood curveball. First-time director Shona Auerbach and writer Andrea Gibb deserve props. They've taken the path less travelled, and that has made all the difference.