Written by Andrea Gibb, Directed by Shona Auerbach
Screening at FACT from 18th-24th February 2005
For weeks before Dear Frankie hit the screens I was plagued by its interminably
long spoiler...sorry, 'trailer'. It was one of those that gives you every
twist and turn of the plot rather than a flavour of the film, and it actually
left me reluctant to see the only slightly longer version. Imagine my
surprise when I discovered that some things had been left to the imagination
after all, and the best things too.
So if you've seen the trailer, you already know that nine-year old Frankie
(Jack McElhone) and his single mum Lizzie (Emily Mortimer) have been traipsing
around Scotland for as long as Frankie can remember, and have now arrived
in a tiny seaside town. Wanting to protect her son from the truth about
his father, Lizzie writes make-believe letters supposedly from him as
he travels the globe on the HMS Accra. When the real ship docks, Lizzie
must either tell Frankie the truth or spin a few more strands in the already
tangled web of deceit.
The inexperienced team of Gibb and Auerbach created a believable and
sweetly optimistic tale that has the warm, photographic feel of a cheap
and cheerful childhood holiday. Young Jack McElhone’s portrayal
of deafness is prodigious, and the cast members seem to relate like a
real community. By the end I'd forgotten I ever hated this film. If you
haven't seen that trailer, then so much the better.