Life & Culture

Film review: Frankie

This family drama fails to amuse Linda Marric


This flawed family drama manages to disappoint on two fronts. Starring one of France’s most loved actors, Isabelle Huppert, it feels both completely vapid and utterly bland, which is strange when one considers the calibre of its cast list and of its director, the much respected Jewish American filmmaker Ira Sachs.

Huppert plays Frankie, a famous French actress who has only a few months to live. To celebrate what’s left of her life with her loved ones, she decides to pay for a luxury holiday for her extended family in the city of Sintra in Portugal. Despite the picturesque location and historical significance of the place, the family grapples with their respective struggles with love, life and money problems.

Sachs’ last two films, Love Is Strange and Little Men — both set in New York — told two gorgeously absorbing and layered stories about complex family dynamics. His latest however, often feels overinflated, verbose and utterly superfluous.

Sachs, who co-writes alongside Mauricio Zacharias, has given us a film that is not quite sure what to do with its hugely impressive cast.

Brendan Gleeson who stars as Frankie’s second husband Jimmy and Marisa Tomei who plays her best friend Irene are given very little to work with here, which is a real shame. The story lacks plausibility, and there are nowhere near enough laughs to make it into a pseudo Woody Allen comedy about posh people doing posh stuff, and that’s the film’s real downfall.

Still, Huppert does what comes to her naturally, commanding the screen from start to finish, but there is very little here story-telling here to keep anyone interested enough to care.

I can’t wait for Sachs to take us back to what he knows best — simple stories about people with whom we might want to spend 90 minutes.

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