By Mark Saldana

Rating: 2 (Out of 4 Stars)

From French New Wave to “Mumblecore” there have been some great films that beautifully create and capture candid slice of life moments while seemingly effortlessly developing characters and putting forth some powerful narratives. Unfortunately, Frankie is not one of those movies. Writer/director Ira Sachs makes a failed attempt at delivering a moving and compelling portrait of a family through conversations and feigned personal moments among the characters. Though the talented cast members act their hearts out, Sach’s film just doesn’t give audiences any real reasons for caring about them.

Isabelle Huppert stars as the titular character Frankie, a once successful and acclaimed veteran actress forced to retire due to a terminal illness. With not much time left, Frankie and her husband Jimmy (Brendan Gleeson) decide take one more family vacation in Portugal and invite some of their closest friends. During this last hurrah for Frankie, the vacation guests must face and contend with different stages of romantic relationships or the lack thereof.

Sachs, who co-wrote the screenplay with Mauricio Zacharias, offers a scattershot of relationships, conflict, and awkwardness with no real message. Now I know not all arr is supposed to make sense to everyone, but Sachs and Zacharias do not give their audiences enough development of their characters to get some semblance of who they are. Not only does the audience not care about these people, but it is a tad difficult to make heads or tails of what motivates them or drives them to tgese exact moments in their lives.

As I previously stated, the members of the cast do what they do best, and make enough sense of the characters to give seemingly natural performances. Isabelle Huppert gives a fine turn as Frankie, a strong-willed and tough woman who puts on a brave face despite her upcoming demise. Greg Kinnear also offers a solid performance as a flaky and indecisive filmmaker Gary. Marisa Tomei is sweet and charming as usual as Gary’s love interest, and Frankie’s friend, Irene. Tge movie also stars Jeremie Renier, Brendan Gleeson, Vinette Robinson, Ariyon Bakare, Sennia Nanua, Pascal Gregory, and Carloto Cotta. All of who perform mostly well.

As gorgeous as the locales are and as lovely as the cinematography is, this example of “intimate” filmmaking and storytelling just falls way short. Though it isn’t a total bore or a complete waste of time, there are plenty of other similarly styled films that tell way more compelling stories with subtly developed fascinating characters. Instead of spending money or time on this film, one should watch a Truffaut or a Linklater. Those filmmakers know how to do it just right.

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