Emily Mortimer, Gerard Butler, Sharon Small, Jack McElhone, Mary Riggans
Directed by Shona Auerbach
Gerard Butler hid his looks behind a mask and disfiguring makeup in The Phantom of the Opera. But onscreen in Dear Frankie, Butler shows sensitivity as well as quality. He plays a Scottish sailor hired by Lizzie (Emily Mortimer) to pretend he's the father of her son Frankie (Jake McElhone), a deaf nine-year-old living outside Glasgow who knows his crewman dad only from letters, delivered from an ever-traveling cargo ship. In truth, Lizzie writes the letters to protect Frankie from his dad's real identity. What could have been a sentimental train wreck emerges as a funny and touching portrait of three bruised people. First-time director Shona Auerbach refuses to blunt the edges of Andrea Gibb's script. A former photographer, Auerbach shows us the lived-in Scotland, not the postcard version. She does the same favor for the actors. Mortimer uncovers long-buried feelings in Lizzie. And Butler is quietly devastating in his scenes with McElhone, a real find. The film is unhurried, unslick and easy to hold dear.
star ratingCBS Films
star ratingRelativity Media
star ratingOpen Road Films
star ratingWalt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
star ratingThe Weinstein Company