'Dear Frankie' made me weep like a little girl.
Pardon my lack of updates these days, been busy setting up casting sessions for an upcoming film, while working on submitting mentor Woo Ming Jin's film, The Elephant and The Sea to the local censorship board (some re-editing for the film had also been done, coupled with some new background music composed by yours truly), and I also had this new addiction for ENTOURAGE (watched the first two seasons) and HEROES (watched the first 8 episodes). Ah well, just your usual producer stuff.
Anyway, I watched 'Dear Frankie' on DVD yesterday. It's about a 9-year-old deaf boy, Frankie (Jack McElhone), who writes letters to his absent father all the time, but the letters he received from the father are actually make-believe letters written by his mother Lizzie (Emily Mortimer), telling the boy his adventures as a sailor in exotic lands on the ship HMS ACCRA (a name invented by Lizzie).
To her horror, there is actually a ship with this name that is going to dock at Greenock, Frankie and Lizzie's latest hometown (they have been constantly on the move). Desperate not to let this blow her cover, Lizzie enlists the help of her new friend and co-worker, Marie, to help her hire a stranger to act as Frankie's dad, Davey, for just one day.
Marie got a stranger played by Gerald Butler (who is King Leonidas in 300... THIS IS SPARTAAAAA!) to do this. The stranger and Frankie like each other so much in their first day that they want to be together for another day, with Lizzie joining them.
The scenes of the first day between Frankie and the stranger are heartwarming and sweet, but never overly cute and schmaltzy. Filmmaker Shona Auerbach, being a female, definitely shows some sensitivity and subtlety that a manly bloke like me can't really portray in my own films!! (she also doubled as cinematographer!!!) And of course, predictably, Lizzie and the stranger fall in love with each other during their second day together, which is also very understated, no forced and scripted romantic comedy rubbish.
(of course, anyone who knows that I'm a sucker for romantic comedies is going to call me out for calling them 'rubbish', but hey, I know that McD's and Burger King are junk food, but that doesn't stop me from frequenting the places often, right?)
Roger Ebert pointed out one particular shot of Dear Frankie in his review of the film :
There is a shot toward the end of "Dear Frankie" when a man and a woman stand on either side of a doorway and look at each other, just simply look at each other. During this time they say nothing, and yet everything they need to say is communicated: Their doubts, cautions, hopes.
And having read that review years before I actually watched this film (and still miraculously remember it!), I was indeed looking out for this shot, and after seeing it, I have to agree that it was pretty damned effective (AND romantic!). It's one of those rare movies of recent years (Dear Frankie is a 2004 movie) that made me go "Damn, I wish I've made a film like this!".
I took a break towards the end of the film (sister, who was watching with me, needed to clean up after dinner) and went to seek some info on Wikipedia, and I accidentally glanced through the spoiler ending for the film.
But if you want to know how moving this film was, well, despite having an idea how the film was going to end (the 'twist' in the end was similar to an episode of the Japanese dorama 'Engine' starring Takuya Kimura, where a teenage boy had to lie to his younger sister that their father is dead when the truth is that their father is in prison after murdering their mom), my eyes were still wet and shit when I actually watched the ending myself. And believe me, I seldom tear up in the movies!!!
Film's THAT damned good. Go watch it. (great film to watch for BOTH Father's Day and Mother's Day) Shona Auerbach hasn't made a film since 'Dear Frankie'.
Based on the amount of fan videos uploaded on Youtube, it seems that this film had resonated with many, and it's amazing to see that happening to a low-profile, low-budget Scottish film like this, and not a huge Hollywood blockbuster.
Just gonna post the one at the top of the search results.
The music in the video is from the actual film (is its opening theme).