Thursday, November 21, 2019

FRANKIE may not be up to the usual level of Ira Sachs movies, but it's still worth a view

Why? As they say in the real estate trade, location (I'll spare you the cliché of repeating this word another two times). FRANKIE, the new film from Ira Sachs (Love Is Strange, Keep the Lights On), has been filmed in Sintra, Portugal, in one of the loveliest locations -- the inside and outside architecture, as well as the lushly verdant landscapes -- I've seen in a movie in some time. Consequently just about every scene features a view or two that is drop-dead gorgeous. Another reason the film is worth seeing is its terrific international cast: Really, are you going to pass up a movie featuring Isabelle Huppert, Brendan Gleeson, Marisa Tomei, Greg Kinnear, Jérémie Renier, Pascal Greggory and the remaining international cast with whom TrustMovies was not as familiar but who are very, very good.

Mr. Sachs' (the filmmaker is shown at left) gift for largely doing away with exposition (or couching it so very well that we don't even notice) seems to have somewhat deserted him here so that we get more expo than we do action or plot.

There are probably times in which this would not mater. But here it eventually stalls the film to the point that we grow impatient for more to happen.

More never comes, so we fall back on the gorgeous cinematography (by the fine Rui Poças)  and the excellent work from the performers, for whom every moment rings true -- even if the movie as a whole doesn't quite make it. And then, Sachs drags his finale on well past the point of no return.

The tale told is one of internationally famous film star (played by Huppert, above) hosting a family-and-friends get together in Sintra during which much is revealed (much of which we, if not some of the other characters, already know). Revealing any of what is revealed risks spoilers -- in a movie that boasts so little plot that even spoiling a single thing seems too much.

So let's just concentrate on that cast of characters at this extended-family reunion to which a couple of outsiders are included. Ms Tomei (above) plays one of Huppert's dearest industry friends (she does hair for movies, as I recall) who brings along a director of photography (Mr. Kinnear) who surprises her with a sudden proposal.

Mr. Gleeson (above, right) essays the role of Huppert's current hubby, while Mr. Greggory plays her former spouse and M. Renier (below, right) is grumpy/sexy as Huppert's grown son who's equally concerned about his mother's health and what he'll inherit, once she has departed.

As I mentioned, we get all this via exposition that's not up to Sach's usual abilities, but the performances are good enough to carry us along, while the background locations, with their eye-popping visuals, keep us happy.

From Sony Pictures Classics, in mostly the English language with some English-subtitled French and Portuguese occasionally tossed in, and running 98 minutes, Frankie, which opened in our cultural centers a few weeks ago to not-so-hot critical notices, hits South Florida tomorrow, Friday, November 22, in the Miami area at AMC's Aventura 24 and in Boca Raton at the Living Room Theaters -- among other possible venues (Sony's Frankie website has not been updated to include any actual theater locations at this point in time).

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