Monday, November 23, 2020

Uncle Frank - Movie Review

The Movie: Uncle Frank

The Director: Alan Ball

The Cast: Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, Peter Macdissi, Judy Greer, Steve Zahn, Lois Smith, with Margo Martindale, Stephen Root

The Story: In 1973, when Frank Bledsoe and his 18-year-old niece Beth take a road trip from Manhattan to Creekville, South Carolina for the family patriarch's funeral, they're unexpectedly joined by Frank's lover Walid.

The Review:
This movie reminds me a lot of August: Osage County and not because Margo Martindale is on both movies but more because they are both about extremely dysfunctional families that are brought together by tragedy. When I say brought together, I don't necessarily mean everyone comes together happily with lessons learned and apologies made. As you can imagine, a movie set in early 70's America about a man facing the reality of coming out to his conservative southern family isn't going to be a breezy, light hearted comedy.

The number one thing that drew me to this movie is the amazing cast which features Paul Bettany as Frank in what could be a signature performance for his career along with Sophia Lillis who has been carving out a pretty impressive career of her own after catching everyone's attention as Beverly Marsh in It. Also contributing some great work are the aforementioned Margo Martindale, Judy Greer, and Steve Zahn as family members and Peter Macdissi as Frank's boyfriend.

One thing that was a bit of a letdown for me is how the director, who also wrote the story, tackled some pretty strong material, especially for the time it is placed in, but told the story in a fairly generic and predictable way. All of the story beats you would expect are there in the order you would expect them to take place and, other than the ultimate payoff moments of the movie, is lacking in the strong emotions I was hoping for. That being said, I enjoyed the movie, the performances and the feel good finale that definitely pulls at all the heart strings.

The Verdict:
Uncle Frank leans on its excellent cast to tell a pleasantly satisfying story. While it takes a look at social issues, it never goes very deep down any of those paths leaving the focus on the relationships and the changing of the guard so to speak of family values.

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