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Dear Frankie

Dear Frankie (2005)



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

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


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

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



liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 30,428

My Rating

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"



Andrea Gibb

Jul 5, 2005


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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.

April 15, 2005 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

April 15, 2005 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
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The pain that's evoked in this small, warm film -- the deep and unspoken yearning of child -- is as universal as it is heartbreaking.

April 15, 2005 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop 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.

April 14, 2005 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop 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.

March 25, 2005 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

March 25, 2005 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
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.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
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.

March 4, 2006 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

A touching little gem.

December 28, 2005 Full Review Source: Fantastica Daily
Fantastica Daily

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

December 10, 2005 Full Review Source:

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

December 8, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
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.

July 5, 2005 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

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

July 2, 2005 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
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.

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

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

May 13, 2005 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

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

May 11, 2005 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
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.

April 27, 2005 Full Review

a good movie stuck inside of a great story

April 24, 2005 Full Review Source:

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.

April 21, 2005 Full Review Source: Orlando Weekly
Orlando Weekly

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

April 20, 2005 Full Review Source:

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.

April 18, 2005 Full Review Source: Charlotte Observer
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.

April 17, 2005 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
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.
October 27, 2012

Super Reviewer

My heart ached throughout the entire movie. Wonderfully done...
October 22, 2012

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.
August 20, 2008

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.
November 20, 2007

Super Reviewer

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