Shona Auerbach's DEAR FRANKIE
This is a warm and emotionally true film.
The story sounds like it could be a treacly tear jerker, but it’s not. A mother of a 9 year old boy has escaped from a physically abusive husband. She has invented a father for the boy who is away on a ship who communicates with the boy only by letter (the mom writes the letters from the dad and intercepts the letters from the boy).
One day the family learns that the “father’s” ship is to dock in the port city where they have taken up residence. The mom, faced by the possibility that the boy will find the truth of her deception, hires a stranger to play the visiting dad “for just one day.” This causes unexpected complications. How these complications are (or are not) resolved is the subject of much of the film.
In less capable hands this film would have been a shallow piece of junk. In Auerbach’s hands it is quiet, compelling, and real. The cinematography is splendid — we see a side of Scotland we seldom see on film — and the colors are muted. The acting, especially the little boy’s, is superb. Music is well done. But everyone does well here, on and off screen.
I highly recommend this film. Its story unfolds slowly. The characters communicate quietly and with glances and movements that carry great weight.
PS: If you’ve ever been the parent of a 9 year old boy, you will see much truth and humor here.