“Dear Frankie” is one of the most touching films I’ve seen in the last year. I have included a few spoilers in this review, but I want you to "get" why I loved it so much so you'll rent it too.
Lizzie was seriously abused by her husband, but she stuck with the relationship until he beat their baby son Frankie, causing him to go deaf. Lizzie took Frankie and they’ve been on the run ever since, only living in one place for a short time until moving. Her ex-husband tries to find her, placing ads in the newspaper asking for information about her, and whenever she feels like he’s getting too close, it’s time to move on.
Her mother, Nell, has come with her to help care for Frankie, and they both love the boy fiercely. They would do anything to protect him and to give him a happy life, so when Frankie starts to wonder about his father, Lizzie creates an elaborate story about how his father is a sailor on a ship. She writes Frankie long letters, pretending to be his father, and tells him all about what life is like on the ocean. Frankie looks forward to receiving those letters, and he writes his father back.
In Frankie’s letters, he tells his father things he’s never told his mother, so when Lizzie reads them, she’s learning more about her son than she would ever know otherwise.
Things are going reasonably well until Frankie learns that his father’s ship will be docking nearby within the next week. One of his classmates taunts him, saying that Frankie doesn’t really have a father and that he won’t come for a visit. Frankie immediately writes to his father, asking if he’s coming. When Lizzie gets the letter, she goes into a tailspin. How on earth is she going to explain to her son that his father can’t come for a visit? Instead, she decides to hire a man to pretend to be Frankie’s father, just for the day.
The man’s name is never known to us as the viewer. Instead, he asks Lizzie to call him Davey, Frankie’s father’s name. He shows up right on time, brings Frankie a gift, and spends the entire day doing just the things Frankie wants to do. Lizzie is delighted. Frankie is happy, he hasn’t learned the truth, and she thinks it’s over. But Davey wants another day, and he wants to spend it with Frankie and Lizzie both.
She’s extremely reluctant, but for Frankie’s sake, she goes along with it. Davey gives them a wonderful day. He treats Lizzie like a queen. He pays attention to everything Frankie communicates, and he shows them both what it would be like to have a good, kind man in their lives. Davey is in every way the kind of man they need. But he really is a sailor, and he has to leave. When he goes, Lizzie discovers that he's slipped his payment back into her coat pocket. He gave them the two most wonderful days of their lives, and he wouldn't take money for it.
We end the movie with Frankie writing to his new friend, who posed as his father. He knows it’s not really his father, and we are left with the strong sense that as soon as "Davey" can, he’ll sail back and claim Lizzie and Frankie for his own.
I cried multiple times during this film. The devotion Lizzie has for her son, the caring Davey demonstrates to Lizzie and Frankie—I was literally aching for him to come back when the film ended. Good, honorable men do exist in this world, and Lizzie deserved a man like that to love. Frankie deserved a father like that.
Although it’s emotionally difficult to watch, I strongly recommend this beautiful film. I will be thinking about it years from now, it impacted me so greatly.
It has been rated PG-13 for some crassness on the part of Frankie’s schoolmate. However, if you want to keep your clicker in your hand and just skip over that part, you’ll be fine. When Frankie goes to his new school and the boy motions for him to come over, just hit fast-forward for about five seconds. The strong Scottish accents are also a little hard to understand, but I'm told that if you turn on the subtitles, you'll get along a lot better. (I didn't think of that ...)
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