Frank Bartlett (Charlie Hunnam) has been tortured, embarrassed, and humiliated by his brother Bruce — usually on film — his entire life. Now that Bruce (Chris O’Dowd) is finally off drugs and has turned his life around, things should be different…
John Waters, I Loves You
Frankie…bucks definition. Is it a comedy, as described by the folks at IMDB? Sure, but it’s comedy like that experienced watching a group of retards hurt themselves and each other. It’s funny if you can laugh at that sort of thing, but really most people don’t. The Farrelly brothers have made a career out of making fun of characters that are less than all there, but this is not their kind of comedy. This film takes itself seriously, its characters take themselves deadly serious, but the situation is just so wild and out there that you find yourself going through the entire movie with mixed feelings. In other words, this is a John Waters film.
If you’ve seen Waters films Pink Flamingos (1972) or A Dirty Shame (2004) then you sort of get the idea. Both films attempt to tell stories about the weird among us, but usually in a world that paints everyone of us as weird and strange and filthy and otherwise undersireable. Frankie director Jordan Roberts appears to have been born and bred on Waters’ oeuvre and decided to follow in that filmmaker’s footsteps.
Weird and Strange and Filthy
Like the Waters films that came before it, Frankie seems to have a message beyond its unusual ensemble cast. It’s hard to get at it, but there appears to be a message buried past the deeply disturbing sight of a cross-dressing Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Sons of Anarchy) and the naked jogging, pet pig loving of actor Chris Noth (Law & Order, Sex and the City, The Good Wife). The end game appears to be that of deeply flawed characters simply trying to stay sane enough to find themselves and each other.
The film centers largely around the happenstance relationship between Frank Bartlett played by actor Charlie Hunnam (Greenstreet Hooligans,Sons of Anarchy) and Lassie (Lizzy Caplan), the girl who literally runs into him after a night of drunken depression and bike peddling. They have a most unusual one night stand which Frank’s brother disturbingly decides to film and then use as an audition tape for his budding career. Ofcourse the first person he happens to leave the tape with is the porn star father of Lassie. Chris Noth plays the role of the washed up porn star with serious anger management issues, oh and who happens to carry a very big gun. Thus we have the films setup. Get the tape before Noth sees it and kills everybody.
Throughout the film we’re introduced to family and friends of Frank and Lizzie and we begin to understand why they turned out so badly, but ofcourse everyone isn’t completely defined by their negligent, distructive behavior. Actually, I take it back. Their parents show just how normal Lassie and Frank have turned out, considering. I won’t spoil too much more of the film for those of you still brave enough to look up this movie. I will say that I haven’t even begun to describe the wall to wall strange that’s on offer in this flick.
Over the past few days, since watching Frankie, I believe I’ve begun to see what I think is the soul of the piece. Deep down and past the weird, we’re all just people who love and want to be loved. Even as we struggle to express it. Maybe it’s just me and this film is just weird for weird sake.
B grade for weirdness
B grade for actor performances
C+ grade for storytelling and direction
Overall a C+ grade for a weird story about love and being loved, I think.