FlixChatter Review: Dear Frankie

I originally wrote a short review of this a couple of years ago, but after watching it again last night, I’ve decided to give it a full review as this gem of an indie deserves it!


Confession: I never would’ve known about this movie had it not been for Gerry Butler‘s involvement. Right after I fell for him in Phantom of the Opera, I knew I had to watch everything else he’s in. Boy, am I glad I did as I LOVE this movie and it holds up really well with each repeat viewing.

The story takes place in a picturesque little town in Scotland. It centers around a single mom, Lizzie (Emily Mortimer) who hires a “dad” for a day for her deaf son, Frankie. The family of three— Lizzie, her mom and Frankie— have been constantly on the move since she left her husband. Over the years, Lizzie has been pretending to be Frankie’s dad through the letters she writes to him (thus the title). It’s all good until the made-up ship where he supposedly sails on actually existed and is about to dock in their town. Frankie makes a bet with his friend that he’d finally meet his father, forcing Lizzie to find a man to fill that role.

The story pretty much picks up when the Lizzie meets the Stranger (Butler), a man with no past and no future, at a coffee shop. Butler’s magnetic presence pretty much grabs you the moment he orders his coffee (“Americano, strong!” in that irresistible Scottish brogue of his). The two days they spend together is truly the heart of the movie. The chemistry between him, Lizzie and Frankie is wonderful, and surprises abound as they discover each other. The moments between the Stranger and Frankie are incredibly touching as well, most of them happens without hardly any words being spoken as they stroll the beautiful Scottish locales together.

The father and son relationship, albeit a pseudo one, is heartwarming. The bond they share in such a short amount of time makes you wish they were a real family. There’s also a little romance mixed in, but it’s done in the most delightfully subtle way. My all-time favorite part in this movie is the doorway scene with the longest pre-kiss moment in movie history! Love is sweetest when you least expect it… as it catches both Lizzie and the Stranger completely off guard.

Director Shona Auerbach not only picked the right actors for the roles, but allowed them to shine in them. Young Scottish actor Jack McElhone is quite a revelation in the title role, convincingly portraying someone with a hearing disability. As he barely had any speaking lines, he had to act mostly with gestures and facial expressions, but he pulled it off remarkably. Mortimer is hugely sympathetic as the lonely single mother who’s still haunted by her dark past. You know Lizzie way over-protective of Frankie and her decision may be questionable, but you can’t help but feel for her. In the dance scene between her and the Stranger, her vulnerability and yearning for something special in her life is palpable. I also want to mention Sharon Small who’s also wonderful as Lizzie’s compassionate friend, Marie.

As for Butler, after following his career for 5+ years now, this is one of my all-time favorite performances. It’s a quiet and understated role that truly shows his dramatic chops as well as his on-screen charisma. What I love about Butler as an actor is how expressive he is. When he learns of a devastating secret about Frankie’s deafness, he deftly conveys his emotion with his eyes and subtle gestures. I would love to see him do a role like this again and find a director who knows how to capture his full potential.

The beautiful performances are harmonized with an evoking soundtrack and gorgeous scenery (set in Greenock, Scotland, near where GB grew up). I especially love Damien Rice’s song Delicate used in the ‘skipping rock’ scene. I can’t recommend this film enough. Anytime you need a break from mainstream Hollywood fares, rent this tiny but poignant indie pronto!

4.5 out of 5 reels

For those of you who’ve seen this film, I’d love to hear what you think.

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39 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Dear Frankie

    • Hi again Diane! Yes absolutely, a small movie with a BIG, BIG heart… it’s definitely first rate all the way. Thanks for your comment.

  1. You are so right about this film, Ruth. I like it more every time I see it. And GBs performance is so convincing… at first a very reluctant “dad” even though he agreed to do it, to him initiating more time with Frankie even though he wasn’t obligated to. And as for the “pre-kiss” moment, I found myself almost cheering for it to happen like I would be for a (much needed) touchdown for the Vikings! Thanks for reminding us all again about this gem of a movie.

    • Thanks for returning the DVD yesterday, Becky, I so missed that film. Glad I had time to rewatch it… I was mesmerized by it once again. Ha..ha.. yeah that pre-kiss moment definitely gets you going, I was like, ‘come on, come on!’ I heard that they had to do that take like a dozen times, man lucky Emily!!

  2. Wow, 7.9/10 on IMDb score. A highly rated Gerard Butler movie! Isn’t that quite the oxymoron these days? LOL but it sounds like an interesting premise, I will add that to my Netflix queue! Nice review Ruth :)

    • Ahah, it’s nice that I don’t have to defend him in this one. I theorize that perhaps those rom-coms made the critics [unfairly] hate him, I dunno if that’s true of course but it seems like he’s hardly in their good graces.

      In any case, this is really a beautiful little movie, Castor, you won’t be disappointed, I promise!

    • I’m glad you’ve seen this one and loved it.

      As for your tweet last nite about GB not acting lately, well you probably just haven’t seen enough of his films. It’s really unfair that people only judge him from his bad rom-coms, excluding P.S. I love you as I think he’s wonderful in that and I love the movie, too. I mean, he did P.S. right after 300, I don’t know how people would call him not having ‘range’ after seeing those two. He’s not only unrecognizable physically but the manner of acting is completely different, but both are very convincing.

      Sorry for my rant, just feel like I need to get that out. It’s kinda hard to say in 140 characters :)

      • Well your right I haven’t seen a lot of GB work, although like you I too like “P.S. I Love You. When I tweeted I wasn’t talking about his whole career just the past couple of years, all of the endless crap of rom-coms is just having us forget what a good actor he is.

        And never be sorry for a rant, how else are conversations started :D

        • He..he.. I can get um, quite passionate when talking about GB, as you can see. I’m glad you realize he’s a good actor. I think his upcoming projects will show his range even more. There is one that is rather rom-com-like but I like the premise of him as a soccer coach, so I hope that’ll be a good one. Thanks Amanda (I finally figured out your real name :D)

    • Hey Dezzy, I think you’ll enjoy this one as it’s truly a heartwarming film and Gerry Berry is absolutely wonderful as well as gorgeous :D I hope you get to see this soon.

    • Hi Dan, I know Flixy and I rave about Gerry in this film, but Emily was perfectly cast, and she was excellent in it too. Enjoy!

  3. I love Gerard for the sensitive characters he plays like he did in Dear Frankie and PS I love you which both I have to be armed with a box of kleenex to watch. I didn’t see the one he did with Aniston and not sure if I want to or his film 300 but I did see him in RocknRolla brilliant film btw and even more brilliant soundtrack which is another obsession for me besides film.

    • Hey Stella, welcome to FC! I’m so glad we have tons in common, JE of course and GB… if only GB would do a Jane Austen film in the near future!

      You can skip his rom-com w/ Heigl and Aniston but you’re right P.S. is delightful and Rocknrolla is a hoot, yes the soundtrack is pretty cool, too.

      300 is a must-watch for any GB fan, so I hope one day you’ll give it a shot. It’s visually interesting as well.

      Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you here often :)

  4. I wish Gerard Butler was in more movies I wanted to see. It’s obvious you really like this one, but I do have one question. You said you wanted him to do a role like this one again and for another director to use him to his full potential. Did you just mean in a more mainstream film?

    • Hi Sir, welcome to FC!

      What I meant is a director who can tap into GB’s potential as an actor in that he’s capable to do dramatic and understated roles like this one. I think a lot of directors seem to only use him for his intensity and highly-physical roles, which is fine as he’s great in those too, but I know that he can do a quiet, nuanced performance just as well. Whether it’s mainstream or indie flicks is not as big of a concern to me, though I think indie projects might allow him to shine more than big, mainstream stuff.

  5. I’ve never heard of this film before, probably because it was such a low budget film and the studio can’t afford to promote it. Sounds interesting though, I might give a rent someday.

    • Hi Kid, welcome to FC! Yeah it’s one of my all-time faves that holds up well after numerous viewing. I hope you get to see this soon.

  6. Hi Ruth, pictures like this are my jam. ashamed to say it’s been in my queue for a while. the setting reminds me of Saving Grace, don’t know if you’ve ever seen that one. Set in completely opposite ends of the British Isles but both in seaside towns.

    • Oh yeah, I like Saving Grace. I’m a sucker for Scottish boys and that one’s got Craig Ferguson, Gerry’s good friend :) It’s quite funny and Craig’s girlfriend in that film also plays Gerry’s love interest in One More Kiss. Lucky girl, eh?

      Which trailer are you referring to? Dear Frankie??

      • Wow, isn’t that crazy? that’s like Kierston Wareing has played love interest to both Michael Fassbender and Tom Hardy.

        Yep, i meant the trailer for Dear Frankie. from what you’ve said, the film is quirky and heartfelt. but the trailer makes it seem like a cookie-cutter romance. Just my opinion :)

        • Wow, another lucky gal that Kierston!! Btw, One More Kiss is also worth a watch just to see young Gerry in a tiny Scottish romance drama. The story is quite heartbreaking but GB is so darn cute, he’s still very scrawny with his dark, wavy hair :D

          I guess I’ve forgotten about DF’s trailer, that’s too bad if they made it look like a rom-com as it’s not even close!

  7. PS: i don’t think its trailer is doing this film any favors! It makes it seem like the stuff they show on Lifetime (cable channel) around the holidays. LOL!

  8. I dont mean to jump on this post but im thinking oftrying out this company to do marketing on my blog does any no anything about them, they are located in london so i heard. i cant find any reviews on them – Rod Gardner and Associates, 19 st Helens Gardens, London, W10 6LW – 0207 558 8957

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