Beware of Spoilers!
Uncle Frank is a story, based on a true reality, which Amazon has recently released and the power of the film felt too overwhelming not to write about. The story begins in the late 60s in South Carolina, a young girl Beth clings to her Uncle Frank- the only adult who looked her in the eye- among a rather large family. Uncle Frank works as a professor at NYU which Beth attends later in the movie, but their relationship is that of understanding before the movie dives too far into any plot developments.
Shortly into the movie, it is revealed that Frank is gay and is committed to his partner of ten years, Wally. And no one in Frank’s family is aware besides a couple of family members-one who accepts and another who despises him because of it. The one who despises him is his father whose unexpected death leads Frank to relive some of the most tragic times in his life. As this unfolds, both Beth and Wally are there for Frank, but he unravels quickly. For instance, his struggles with alcoholism are apparent. And while this sounds like a rapidly declining situation, Uncle Frank is unlike movies of it’s kind. Although there are moments of despair, it’s mostly an honest portrayal of how a family can both embrace you and tear you down. Instead of ending on a tragic note, Uncle Frank gives perspective and hope that his family will accept him even if others won’t. And some of the elements are based on real-life truths that writer and director Alan Ball’s family experienced.
The movie has received both negative and positive reviews from critics, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 78%. For instance, Glen Weldon from NPR says, “Everything about Uncle Frank feels oddly impatient; characters like Frank, Beth and the rest of the family get frog-marched through their respective growth arcs before individual moments along the way have a chance to resonate.” And in another breath, Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian says, “Uncle Frank doesn’t have the witty indirectness of American Beauty or Ball’s TV classic Six Feet Under, but it has a strong and very convincing performance from Bettany.” So, the reviews are mixed, but to each their own. Amazon Prime is streaming Uncle Frank, free of charge, to its members right now. So, if you have any curiosity about the film, Uncle Frank, then check it out.
If my review hasn’t convinced you then check out the trailer here.