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Some of it may be in retrospect, but there is a certain aspiration for people when they get older to have a gathering of those close to them before their health takes a turn; it did with my Dad before his health deteriorated, and it does with Frankie, starring Isabelle Huppert, who has gradually fought towards receiving the respectability she deserves decades after the widely scorned Michael Cimino film Heaven's Gate.
Huppert plays the eponymous role of Frankie, aka Francoise Cremont, a famous actress who has a terminal cancer diagnosis. She invites her family to the Portuguese riviera to be around them once more before things chance, but whether she decides to tell them of her health remains unknown. Jimmy (Brendan Gleeson, Paddington 2) is aware of her fight and does what she can to make her feel comfortable, and cares for her despite being her second husband. Her first, Michel (Pascal Greggory, La Vie En Rose) has also made the trip, as has their son Paul (Jeremie Renier, In Bruges). Frankie has invited Ilene (Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler) to make the trip with the ulterior motive of starting a relationship between her and Paul, but Ilene has brought along Gary (Greg Kinnear, Little Miss Sunshine), a friend from motion pictures who also wants to be Ilene's beau.
Ira Sachs (Little Men) directed the film based on a screenplay he worked on with longtime writing partner Mauricio Zacharias (Love is Strange), and Frankie comes across as a bit melancholic to some heartbreaking degree.
Huppert handles the roles of mother, wife and friend admirably. She may not have expected or liked things to play out as they did, but in Sachs' long shot at the end, the pieces of the family she has are a legacy to go with the one she has onscreen. Gleeson's casting as Jimmy is curious at first, but he serves as a quiet, selfless caretaker. Her work in the film is good but not transcendent, though the story does not give that much of a chance to work.
Ultimately, the film does a decent job of conveying how Frankie's get together doesn't pan out the way that she wants it to, but does not take the extra step of showing her pain, frustration, what have you in why it has not, or that particular next part. We know that it is on the outside but few seem to look at the fallout from it. Maybe not having the next part and having the disappointment is what the film is trying to get at, but it does not a convincing job at whatever the task is.
The 1.66:1 widescreen presentation befitting Frankie looks nice, and shows off the Portuguese town of Sintra well, with lots of natural light in town set against the bright sun on the beach. Colors are natural but not oversaturated and flesh tones appear natural, and the image lacks any smearing or halos, coming through as natural and faithful to the source material.
DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless surround rules Frankie, and it sounds good, despite a source material that does not get a lot to do. Dialogue is natural and well-balanced and atmospheric effects sound clear and provide a nice immersion level, particularly the beach and bus shots. Everything is quiet as the film wants it to be, but it sounds clear and provides a solid listening experience.
Save for the trailer (2:05), the only other extra is a Q&A with Huppert and Sachs (27:49) where the pair talk about the story and the roles the cast play, as well as the cast in general. Sachs share his thoughts on Huppert and on the ending. It is fine as far as Q&A sessions go, but for it to be the only extra to speak of is weak.
The ideas behind Frankie are well-intentioned, but they are also incomplete, and tha lack of vetting would make this a very good movie instead of an average one. Technically, the disc looks and sounds excellent, and the lack of bonus material is a bummer. Overall it proves to be undistinguishable save for another solid performance by Huppert.