Uncle Frank Review
In his various projects, director-writer Alan Ball has proved masterful in tackling issues of death, life, LGBTQ+ stories and the racial divide on the small scale of America. The latest film he has made about those influences is more in the taboo-busting drama of Six Feet Under than the fun and snarky comedy in True Blood, confronting tough issues with warmth.
Paul Bettany's Frank plays the lead role in the film and tells his story, it is viewed from the perspective of Sophia Lillis' Beth – A kinship partner within the Bledsoe family who realizes that her uncle from New York is smarter, more sophisticated and sharper-witted than the relatives who remain at home in Creekville, South Carolina. A few years later and she's now a student at NYU when she turns into a party on Frank's Greenwich Village flat uninvited, she discovers the reason he's been a distant figure from the household: because he's gay and living in secret with his girlfriend Wally (Peter Macdissi). If Uncle Frank is portrayed as a coming of age drama as Beth's eye is exposed just towards the presence of LGBTQ communities as well as drug use, boyfriends, and perspectives from non-whites the film quickly transforms into a road film when tragedy strikes the family and forces her to take a long trip to home.
The actor who steals the scene can be found in Peter Macdissi, whose Wally is charming and funny charming, but not an exuberant caricature
Lillis is likable and has a wide-eyed look as Beth she continues to display the compassionate characteristics she showed in the two sections of It. However, as the movie progresses she is lost in the crowd and this is the story of Frank and it's a little unconnected as the main character gets a second place for the majority of the running time. Bettany is clearly thrilled to explore real human drama that isn't reflected in the bright red face he wears for the MCU's Vision however, the main character Macdissi is the one who steals the show. Wally is bright-eyed and funny and charming without being an over-the-top caricature. His warm and gentle personality seems to reflect into the film's atmosphere for the majority of the running time – when Ball is able to identify obvious sources of drama on the route, he decides to stay clear of them, instead offering something that is more calming and low-key.
This makes the finale somewhat disappointing, since Frank revisits his past, and the inevitable emotional fireworks explode in the midst of a flurry of alcoholism, remaining PTSD and homophobia that shatters the sane tone that was previously set. Although Uncle Frank's 95 minutes of running time provides a refreshing pace, it ends too fast and in a neat manner, Ball reaching for a satisfyingly optimistic conclusion which doesn't feel like it was achieved.
Yet, Ball's voice is real and frank and real his writing and pictures are packed with humorous observations ranging from the assortment of tray-foods that neighbors who attend the wake of a loved one or a funeral, to Frank Wally's pet lizard , named Barbara Stanwyck. Its structure could be difficult to navigate however Uncle Frank's huge heart is at the right spot.