To be honest, thats not usually a good sign. Studios release films they want to push and show a little extra support for during the last quarter of the year, not in the first few months of the year. Fortunately, Dear Frankie, a film that was on my list of the Top 10 Best Films of 2004 until it got bumped, isnt one of those throw-away efforts delayed from theatrical release and then allowed to quietly slip into theaters without any expectations. This is a film which deserves support and will hopefully find the right audience now that the Oscars and other award show contenders are finished grabbing the attention of moviegoers.
Dear Frankie is an absorbing, emotionally moving story filled with characters the audience can relate to, and told without any pretensions. The story follows 9 year-old Frankie (McElhone) and his single mother, Lizzie (Mortimer). Lizzies a good mother who is very protective of her deaf son and who tries to keep from him the real story of the father he doesnt know. Instead of telling him the truth about his missing dad, Lizzie invents a story that Frankies dad is a sailor who is off on adventures around the globe aboard the HMS Accra. Lizzie even goes as far as writing letters pretending to be the missing dad. When the HMS Accra turns up in port, Lizzies forced to call on the services of a stranger (Butler) to play the role of Frankies dad.
After speaking to Gerard Butler about his role in Dear Frankie, Ive settled on the opinion there ought to be a law requiring Scottish actors to always use their natural accents in roles. So what if it doesnt fit the character? Butler, with his talent and charm, could pull it off. Butlers as pleasant an interview as youd expect, answering questions that ranged from relating to his character in Dear Frankie, to inspiring an extremely dedicated group of fans on the Internet, to starring in The Phantom of the Opera and the upcoming Beowulf and Grendel and Burns movies.
A note of warning: There is one Dear Frankie spoiler tucked away at the very end of the interview on page five. If you havent yet seen the movie, dont read the answer to the question marked Spoiler. Youve been warned.
INTERVIEW WITH GERARD BUTLER (The Stranger):
Dear Frankie was filmed a couple of years ago. How tough is it to get passionate about a movie you worked on a couple of years back?
It takes a little bit of getting back into again. But then again this movie, I think, is so special to Emily [Mortimer] and I. Were so proud of it, everybody involved actually, that I think out of all the movies Ive done, I think its the easiest one to muster up the passion and belief again.
What made it so special for you?
Well, to start off with it was a beautiful script and I just found it so gorgeously crafted. And I found the story so unusual and fresh and original. I found it moving whilst also being funny. It was full of twists. It was sweet and yet melancholy and uplifting. It was so many things and told to me in a very different style of storytelling.
I always felt that if we could all go in and throw it all away and be so understated, then it could really come across as just a truthful little fairy tale, if you could say that. The experience of being back in Scotland, of working with Emily who I already respected so much, of working with Shona [Auerbach, the director] and Andrea [Gibb, screenwriter] people who believed in it so much.
There was always something very special attached to this project. It was a passion project for so many people and to see it come and be a movie, and to see the reaction that it had and has had all around the world at all these different festivals from so many people, for them to be so kind of profoundly affected by it and feel so strongly about it, it has just been great. For all the more reason because its just a little movie. But its something in a way that you feel you helped discover.