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Dear Frankie (2005)

Dear Frankie


Average Rating: 6.8/10
Reviews Counted: 110
Fresh: 89
Rotten: 21

Critics Consensus: Dear Frankie is a small, good-hearted film with fine performances.

Average Rating: 6.7/10
Reviews Counted: 35
Fresh: 28
Rotten: 7

Critics Consensus: Dear Frankie is a small, good-hearted film with fine performances.


Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 30,431


Movie Info

Directed by Shona Auerbach, Dear Frankie revolves around nine-year-old Frankie (Jack McElhone) and his mother, Lizzie (Emily Mortimer). The mother and son duo have been on the run for as long as Frankie, who has been deaf for years, can remember. In an effort to protect Frankie from the truth -- that a psychotic father, whose physical abuse caused his hearing loss, is at the root of their constant need to move from one home to the next -- Lizzie pens a series of letters from Frankie's "father" … More

PG-13 (for language)
Directed By:
Written By:
Andrea Gibb
In Theaters:
Jul 5, 2005
Box Office:
Miramax Films - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Dear Frankie

All Critics (120) | Top Critics (39) | Fresh (89) | Rotten (21) | DVD (17)

A bittersweet bonbon of a drama, full of the old fashioned literary touches that a well-written letter still can deliver in the age of e-mail.

Full Review… | April 15, 2005
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

A small movie with a big soul and no easy formula for the happiness of its big-hearted characters.

Full Review… | April 15, 2005
Miami Herald
Top Critic

The pain that's evoked in this small, warm film -- the deep and unspoken yearning of child -- is as universal as it is heartbreaking.

Full Review… | April 15, 2005
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

The film works as a highlight tape for the cast and will satisfy any desire you have to be driven to the brink of tears.

Full Review… | April 14, 2005
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

There is no unnecessary dialogue, and Auerbach encourages us to listen closely and to study the situation. We are required to learn truths slowly, at the same pace as the characters.

Full Review… | March 25, 2005
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Gives us a spoonful of medicine to make the sugar go down. Depending on your tolerance, it just may go down a treat.

Full Review… | March 25, 2005
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

With great performances, a simple story, and an original ending, it's well worth watching...

Full Review… | April 29, 2009
Cinema Crazed

A quietly told film that--by casually tossing in a surprise here and a plot twist there--builds up to an ending that carries an intense emotional impact.

Full Review… | March 1, 2007
Film Journal International

Thanks to some wonderfully open-ended writing and acting, and Auerbach's fine attention to detail, Dear Frankie is one of those rare films that rewards repeat viewing.

September 22, 2006
Christianity Today

This is a little gem of a film.

Full Review… | March 4, 2006
Laramie Movie Scope

A touching little gem.

Full Review… | December 28, 2005
Fantastica Daily

The heart of the film is the very touching mother-son story.

Full Review… | December 10, 2005

Proves to be heartwarming despite its contrivances and phony attempts at being arty.

Full Review… | December 8, 2005
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Se por alguns instantes parecia estar seguindo os passos de bons filmes similares, infelizmente acabou por render-se aos clichs e gua-com-acar.

July 8, 2005
Cinema em Cena

There's a timeless quality about 'Dear Frankie.' This touching film tugs at your hearstrings and won't let go, even after the end credits roll.

Full Review… | July 5, 2005
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

...a rare and endearing portrait of a mother's unconditional if not always judicious love for her only child.

Full Review… | July 2, 2005
Movie Metropolis

True to its weepy telefilm resemblance, Dear Frankie delivers several eye-dabbing moments, but the tears...are earned through solid storytelling and subdued acting.

Full Review… | May 24, 2005
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

You'll see a lot worse ham-fisted dramas about busted-up but striving people this year.

Full Review… | May 13, 2005
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The film's sentimentality is balanced by a strong, hard-edged sense of reality at every turn.

Full Review… | May 11, 2005
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Flirts with mawkishness at every turn but somehow remains as solid as the working-class neighborhoods and shipyards of its Glasgow setting.

May 4, 2005
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Dear Frankie runs the immediate risk of film snob derision: It's a nice movie that might make you feel something.

Full Review… | April 27, 2005

a good movie stuck inside of a great story

Full Review… | April 24, 2005

The movie hinges on whopping coincidence, but the actors all tread carefully with their emotions, giving the film the necessary credibility to make the tender moments honest and smart yet still handkerchief-worthy.

Full Review… | April 21, 2005
Orlando Weekly

A sweet little heart-tugger ... served by a plot that dares to go in directions we would not have supposed.

Full Review… | April 20, 2005

The movie has been shot with love and wisdom, and its implausible premise doesn't get in the way of a sweetness and honesty too rarely seen.

Full Review… | April 18, 2005
Charlotte Observer

Mortimer, McElhone, and Butler each bring sensitivity and likability to their roles, but they've an uphill battle personifying characters who are, respectively, a clairvoyant, a fantasist, and a fantasy.

Full Review… | April 17, 2005
Austin Chronicle

Audience Reviews for Dear Frankie


This is a highly underrated little gem from first time feature director Shona Auerbach. It's a film that shows a real delicacy and understanding for human relationships and a sensitive perception of life in general.
Frankie (Jack McElhone) is a 9 year old deaf boy has never met his father. His mother Lizzie (Emily Mortimer) left him years ago but never had the heart to tell her son. Instead, she concocts a story and tells Frankie that his father is working on a ship, sailing around the world. She also sends letters to Frankie, pretending to be his dad in far off places. Her story threatens to come to pieces though when Frankie discovers that his dad??s ship is due to dock at their hometown of Greenock. Instead of telling Frankie the truth, Lizzie employs the services of a stranger (Gerard Butler) to pretend that he's Frankie's father.
Every now and again you come across a low-key drama with real depth and honesty that when it's all over you are left feeling genuinely touched; a tear may even well-up or for that matter fall. This is that type of drama. It's a film that tugs on the heartstrings but doesn't use any form of manipulation to do so. It's just good, honest, storytelling that uses observation and an understanding of life and the heartbreaking complexities therein. It touches on the extent that parents will go to protect their children and also the difficulties faced by broken, impoverished families. What it also does, is put your faith in the kindness of strangers. That being said, this is not a film that's depressing. In fact, it's quite the opposite. It's a life-affirming story filled with humour as well as pathos and everyone hits just the right note. It's also a film that could claim to showcase the real charm and charisma of Gerard Butler before he hopped aboard the fame train. He's an enigmatic presence and delivers a wonderfully subtle, turn that gained him a lot more recognition amongst critics and filmgoers alike. The same could be said of Emily Mortimer; she is absolutely superb as a supportive but desperate mother striving to protect her son and further excellent support is delivered by young Jack McElhone as the eponymous and gentle natured Frankie. He doesn't physically talk throughout the film but we get to hear his thoughts through the letters he writes to his absent and elusive father. It's through these heartfelt, emotional performances that the film really resonates. That's not to take away from writer Andrea Gibb's endearing screenplay or director/cinematographer Shona Auerbach's sensitive handling of the material though; everyone pulls their weight in capturing just the right tone here. It's a such a shame that Auerbach hasn't made a film since as on this evidence, she certainly has the ability and a 15 minute standing ovation at Cannes would further fuel that.
A sweet and poignant little drama with fantastic performances all round. A film with a head and a heart and good feel for the moment.

Mark Walker

Super Reviewer


My heart ached throughout the entire movie. Wonderfully done...

Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

Utterly charming, family drama about a mother who, out of love for her 9 year old son, maintains a deception designed to protect him from the truth about his father. Bittersweet and touching, this film tugs at your emotions, not in a manipulative way, but genuinely, with a heartwarming story. British Shona Auerbach is a director to watch.

Mark Hobin

Super Reviewer

A sweet, simple movie in tune with the holiday spirit. The performances are pure heart and portray real, live people without resorting to stereotypes.

Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

Dear Frankie Quotes

The Stranger:
Every day you were protecting him!
– Submitted by Dorothy M (2 years ago)

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