Frankie: Directed by Ira Sachs. With Isabelle Huppert, Sennia Nanua, Ariyon Bakare, Vinette Robinson. Three generations grappling with a life-changing experience during one day of a vacation in Sintra, Portugal, a historic town known for its dense gardens and fairy-tale villas and palaces.
“In u0026quot;Frankieu0026quot;, the eponymous French movie star (played by Isabelle Huppert) is dying of cancer and gathers her complex family and friends around her for one last u0026#39;family holidayu0026#39; in the picturesque Portuguese town of Sintra. We follow the events of a single day of the vacation as frictions and back-stories of the players become more evident.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003ePositives:nu003culu003eu003cliu003eSintra looks gorgeous: as a regular visitor to Portugalu0026#39;s Silver Coast, itu0026#39;s a place Iu0026#39;ve not yet visited. The cinematography of the region makes me want to change that.u003c/liu003eu003c/ulu003eu003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eu003culu003eu003cliu003eThere are a couple of decent scenes in the movie: both involving the trustworthy Greg Kinnear: one involving him trying to sell a film idea to Frankie (who knows, but wonu0026#39;t tell him, that she wonu0026#39;t be around for it); and another with Kinnear and Tomei at their hotel.u003c/liu003eu003c/ulu003eu003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eNegatives:nu003culu003eu003cliu003eWhere do I start…. the film is as dull as ditchwater!u003c/liu003eu003c/ulu003eu003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003e– A criticism I had of the otherwise impressive u0026quot;Nomadlandu0026quot; was that the story arc of the leading character was shallow and not very compelling. The story arc here is a bloody straight line! Virtually nothing happens in the movie and it goes nowhere. Events occur as isolated snippets in the storyline. For example, the u0026#39;lossu0026#39; of an expensive bracelet is randomly lobbed into the story, but then is never referenced back in any future narrative.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003e– When the ending happened (which the illustrious Mrs Movie Man referred to as a u0026quot;blessingu0026quot;) it was a non-event. The lady behind us in the cinema exclaimed u0026quot;WHAT????u0026quot;. And I could understand her frustration.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eu003culu003eu003cliu003eThe direction is distinctly lacking. Aside from the couple of decent scenes (see above), most of the shots feel like first takes, with the actors doing read-throughs of the clunky script to try to work out how to best sell the lines. u0026quot;OK, time to film it for real nowu0026quot;. But director Sachs has already shouted u0026quot;Cut and Print…. now whou0026#39;s for some more vinos and Pastel de Nata?u0026quot;! Were they aiming for some sort of naturalistic fumbling of the characteru0026#39;s conversations? For thatu0026#39;s how it comes across, and itu0026#39;s just awful.u003c/liu003eu003c/ulu003eu003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eu003culu003eu003cliu003eThe script feels like a wasted opportunity. The set-up should have been a good one for an intense drama. And there are flashes (merely flashes) of potential brilliance in there: a formative step-brother/step-sister incident is based around the film u0026quot;Greaseu0026quot;, which is mirrored (either cleverly or purely through coincidence!?) in the beach-side romance of Maya (Sennia Nanua) and Portuguese holiday-maker Pedro (Manuel Sá Nogueira). And does the homosexual Michel (Pascal Greggory) have his sights on Jimmy (Brendan Gleeson)? Or Tiago? Or both? None of these potentially interesting strands ever get tied down..u003c/liu003eu003c/ulu003eu003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eu003culu003eu003cliu003eAside from the poor script and the poor direction, some of the acting performances are unconvincing. u0026quot;The Girl with all the Giftsu0026quot; was a fabulous film – it made my number 2 slot of 2016! And I called out young Sennia Nanua as u0026quot;one to watch for the futureu0026quot; as the zombie girl at the heart of the film. Here she was 17 at the time of filming. But Iu0026#39;m afraid I just didnu0026#39;t find her convincing as the moody teen. (By the way, I only single her out, since I was so impressed with her previous performance: with the exception perhaps of Kinnear, Tomei and Carloto Cotta. None of the rest of the cast consistently shine either.)u003c/liu003eu003c/ulu003eu003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eSummary Thoughts: Itu0026#39;s a real shame that my first visit back to the cinema was such a let-down. Ira Sachs is not a director I know, but he comes with a strong reputation (for 2016u0026#39;s u0026quot;Little Menu0026quot;). But here he delivers a plain stinker. Iu0026#39;m afraid this movie has a word associated with it, and the word is u0026quot;Avoidu0026quot;.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003e(For the full graphical review, please check out u0026quot;One Mannu0026#39;s Moviesu0026quot; on tu0026#39;interweb or Facebook. Thanks.)”