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Dear Frankie (2004)

Directed by:

Shona Auerbach

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 105 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12a

On DVD

Country: United Kingdom

If, deep down, you’re that little bit mushy and delicate, then you should get your box of hankies at the ready. In fact, you might end up needing them even if you’re not, because ‘Dear Frankie’ is quite possibly one of the most touching, heart-breaking films I’ve ever seen. My guessing is it would have even renowned strongman Geoff Capes crying like a girlie (albeit a girlie with arms like two massive logs and a beard like a rhododendron).

This Scotland-set drama stars the always-wonderful Emily Mortimer as Lizzie, a single mum who’s been keeping an absolute whopper of a secret from 9-year-old son Frankie (Jack McElhone). With dad no longer on the scene, she’s been pretending he’s off around the world working as a jolly sailor, and has been keeping up an elaborate ruse involving taking all of the kid’s numerous letters and writing back to him herself. But it looks like the jig could be up when the HMS Accra – the ship she’s been claiming Popsy is aboard – pulls up at the local harbour and poor wee Frankie thinks he’s finally going to get to meet up with his dad. So does our Lizzie finally tell him the truth? Nah! Why do that when you can hire a complete stranger (Gerard Butler) to pretend to be Daddy Dearest?

Andrea Gibb’s touching screenplay and Shona Auerbach’s unobtrusive direction combine with some marvellously low-key and understated performances to produce one of the real gems of 2004. Sure, it deliberately goes for the heart-strings, and it’s often the case with such films that they just end up feeling crass and manipulative – but there’s a really genuine feeling to this one. It takes its time, it gets its story across effectively, and it has every bit as much impact as all of those involved could have hoped for. Watch it without Kleenex at your peril.

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It's Got: Chips for tea every single night – which, besides the accents, is probably the best clue there is that it is indeed set in Scotland.

It Needs: Some veggies. Other than chips, that is.

DVD Extras Director’s commentary, some deleted scenes with optional commentary, an interview with director Auerbach, a trailer, and the short film ‘Seven’ (which is inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘Seven Ages of Man’, and has nothing to do with Brad Pitt or a head in a box). Version reviewed: Dear Frankie DVD Extras Rating: 7/10

Alternatives:

American Cousins

Summary

This simple-but-effective weepy ensures there won’t be a dry eye left in the chippie.

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