Festival favorite “Frankie” just doesn’t get it done

Unfolding over the course of a late summer’s day in the fabled resort town of Sintra, Portugal, FRANKIE, directed by Ira Sachs, follows three generations who have gathered for a vacation organized by the family matriarch Françoise Crémont (Isabelle Huppert) or “Frankie” as she’s commonly referred to. In what was supposed to be a grand family gathering, featuring husbands and wives, parents and children, friends and lovers, things run awry and problems arise from every direction.

This family gathering, which looked more like the island of misfit toys, included her second husband Jimmy (Brendan Gleeson), her bratty son Paul (Jérémie Renier), and equally troubled daughter Sylvia (Vinette Robinson). She also invited her friend Irene (Marisa Tomei) who works in the film industry but, that invitation came with an ulterior motive. She’s secretly trying to match Irene with her son Paul. To go further down the spiral, Irene ruins Frankie’s secret plans once her boyfriend Gary (Greg Kinnear) arrives and Sylvia has man problems of her own.

group shot Frankie

From what I can tell, the film is a sort of exploration into the intricacies of family dynamics and contrasting ideologies. That’s all well and good, but the pace was just far too slow. The dialogue was dull and overdone and there were more than a few awkward moments I could’ve done without. On top of that, there were a lot of paths the characters opened that never closed or weren’t explained. The most notable was an elegant bangle Frankie was gifting to her son since he had fallen on hard times financially. Being the spoiled brat that he is, she said something he didn’t like and he hurled it into the woods. She yelled and ran after it but after a minute or so of searching, Irene bumps into her and they just walk off as if a $40,000 heirloom isn’t just lying in the dirt somewhere.

With the cast that was brought together for this film, I expected a lot more. Sadly, this is one of those films that might have ridden festival acclaim but that’s where it should’ve stayed.

I give FRANKIE a 5.5 out of 10. The most interesting storyline in this cast of many (so many characters to follow) was that of Sylvia’s daughter Maya (Sennia Nanua) but they barely scratched the surface with her character. Being a French speaker myself, I did enjoy seeing conversations in her native tongue. That brought a bit of authenticity to her being a French celebrity, but that was about it.

 

-Jon J.

Photos: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

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