Uncle Frank Movie Review Rating: 3.5/5 Stars (Three and a half stars)
Star Cast: Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, Peter Macdissi, Steve Zahn, Judy Greer, Margo Martindale, Stephen Root
Director: Alan Ball
What’s Good: Alan & emotions has always been a pair to look forward to, that’s what this film offers in a wholesale quantity!
What’s Bad: It clocks 90 minutes later than you’d expect!
Loo Break: Not recommended but if you’re feeling like taking one while watching, skip the film!
Watch or Not?: A must watch if you’re not homophobic!
Going in the film knowing it’s a road-trip adventure, it starts with a very functional portrayal of a dysfunctional family set majorly in the late 60s and early 70s. Located in a fictional town of Creekville in South Carolina, writers might be hinting at Greenville of the same state. We’ve Betty (Sophia Lillis) who for some reason doesn’t like her name or the way she’s treated in her family. The only one who understands her is her Uncle Frank (Paul Bettany).
With proper guidance, Betty turns to Bet, a name which she loves, following the academic route she dreamt of. This leads to Betty staying close to her Uncle Frank in Manhattan, which means knowing things he’s hiding from the family. One such thing is – he’s gay. After coming out to Beth, Frank and his lover, Wally (Peter Macdissi) take a road-trip back to home to solve some unsolved family disputes.
Uncle Frank Movie Review: Script Analysis
Alan Ball mashes up two beautiful genres into one, giving his trademarked realistic touch to narrate this coming-out drama. He treats his characters with the utmost sensitivity, especially the three leading ones. Though he starts with the note of how Uncle Frank is a relative that we all deserve, he soon begins to showcase his shortcomings to portray his humane nature.
One place where the script falters is the road-trip portions. It’s just like every other road-trip, you hope it’ll be fun, but once you’re actually on the trip, you start missing home. Not a correct analogy to put here but that’s how the pace feels. Thankfully, the journey is just some part of the film and Ball reconciles that with some heart-warming flashback portions of Frank’s life.
Uncle Frank Movie Review: Star Performance
Paul Bettany adapts Frank’s strengths and weaknesses as his own. Even for the natural performer, he has always been, Frank is still a challenging character to play which Paul nails it to the core. He takes you deep to the emotional depth of Frank, leaving on you to decide how a closeted gay feels as.
Sophia Lillis proves to be a perfect choice for Betty/Beth. Exploring the adolescent period of her life, Sophia gets the mental state of Beth on-point only to reciprocate that with a brilliant act. Peter Macdissi, as Wally adds the sweet taste to this well-balanced country meal.
From rest of the cast, Steve Zahn as Mike shares a couple of defining scenes portraying them with equal zest. ‘Mammaw’ Margo Martindale ends her performance with a dialogue-heavy scene with Frank which justifies her presence in the film.
Uncle Frank Movie Review: Direction, Music
Alan Ball doesn’t treat this as a road-trip movie at all. Despite having all the ingredients, he never loses the focus from the ‘coming-out’ part of the story, and that makes this a special one. Thankfully, teaming up with Jonathan Alberts (Editor) he manages to keep the proceedings tight hence meaningful.
Recently winning an Emmy for Hollywood, Nathan Barr’s minimalistic approach to the background score emerges victorious once again. The ‘no-disturbance’ music compliments the theme of the film and hence creating the desired impact.
Uncle Frank Movie Review: The Last Word
All said and done, as they say, all’s well that ends well, and this one ends on a spectacular note. Alan Ball gives the teaching of ‘to be who you are, and not people want you to be’ a humane twist without getting preachy at any point.
Three and a half stars!
Uncle Frank Trailer
Uncle Frank releases on 25th November, 2020.
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