Frankie review | Film – Empire
Sinta, Portugal. Famous French movie star Françoise, aka Frankie, (Isabelle Huppert) invites her family to her beautiful mountainside sanctuary. With relationships all facing their own emotional issues, Frankie has something to tell them.
With Love is strange and Little men, Ira Sachs has established himself as a master of small-scale sweets, remarkably observed character dramas, set in New York City, sipped with humor and humanity. Define his last, Frankie, in the sunnier climates of the Portuguese mountain landscapes of Sinta, something got lost in the transatlantic crossing. It’s not that Frankie is bad – he claims strength in acting depth – he just feels dull, especially in light of his previous work.
Frankie is a strangely deaf and overly talkative affair.
Action – or, more accurately, inaction – takes place over a day. Famous French actress Françoise, aka Frankie (Isabelle Huppert), has summoned the intricate pieces of her family to join her, along with her second husband, Jimmy (Brendan Gleeson) in their lavish hillside retreat. The clan includes her son Paul (Jérémie Renier) of first husband Michel (Pascal Greggory), the daughter of Jimmy Sylvia (Vinette Robinson) who is experiencing relationship difficulties with her husband Ian (Ariyon Bakare), and their daughter Maya (Sennia Nenua) who goes alone and meets locals at the beach. The reason for the family reunion is painfully obvious from the start (“This horrible thing makes you lose faith in love itself”) but takes its time to emerge.
Frankie’s makeup artist Ilene (Marisa Tomei), whom Frankie has invited as a potential partner for her son, turns around family, but the plan goes awry when she arrives with her current squeeze Gary (Greg Kinnear), who is oddly a second unit cinematographer on a Star wars filming of films in Spain. There are a few good times – Frankie being dragged into a fan’s 88th birthday party – and one last daring move. But you would expect that, with three generations clashing, sparks will fly – but somehow, Frankie is a strangely muffled, overly talkative affair of characters pondering romantic and relationship mini-dramas like an Eric Rohmer movie about sedatives. Huppert can do this thing while sleeping, there are some good support turns (especially Tomei and Gleeson) and the place is beautiful, but Frankie A slow, thin and surprisingly bland affair emerges.
He has his pleasures but after the nuances and emotional hits of Love Is Strange and Little Men, Frankie is a disappointment. Even the Queen, Isabelle Huppert, cannot raise this one.