FILM REVIEW: Uncle Frank

Brian Butler November 25, 2020

Paul Bettany is Uncle Frank,  a  46-year-old shy intellectual who doesn’t fit into the red-neck South Carolina family to which he belongs.

When his father dies, the event puts Frank’s life at the crossroads and uncovers past loves and losses. Bettany is brilliant as the buttoned-down NYC literature professor whose niece Beth seems to release  more of who he really is.

Sophie Lillis is the young catalyst for a train of events neither she nor Frank can control. Lillis is smiley, easy-going and refreshing. On her NYC trip to visit her uncle  she discovers that Frank doesn’t have an apparent girlfriend Charlotte but a 10-year-long partner, the Saudi Arabian Wally .

Peter Macdissi plays it just right as a warm affectionate  lover who brings emotional strength and a questioning nature to his relationship with Bettany’s closet queer. Wally has  experienced worse things than Frank – having fled his native land for fear of beheading because of his sexuality.

Both men spend a good part of their lives lying to their families about their true nature – Wally being hidden away from Frank’s relatives. When Beth gets involved she is the architect of  change and the road to redemption and reconciliation.

Important to remember that Oscar winner  Alan Ball ( writer/director ) sets his film in 1973 ,  when Wally and Frank are in fear of imprisonment for just loving each other.

Frank’s advice to Beth – “ you can choose who you want to be “ seems not to apply to his own life, but his father’s funeral unleashes a level of hatred that is quite shocking but also a necessary evil to make Frank re-examine his life and a tragic incident in his past that has to be exorcised if  he is to prosper as the man he really is.

Hats off to Miramax and Amazon Studios for mainstreaming the film  – it deserves the widest of audiences.

It’s available on Amazon Prime video