Dear Frankie is a sweet little film about a nine-year old boy who lives with his mother and grandmother. The father is ‘away at sea’, or so Frankie is told. Frankie had been beaten so badly as a boy by his father that he lost all hearing and never developed speech. Frankie doesn’t know this, only figuring that his father is a seaman and lives the seaman’s life. His mother Lizzie thinks it best that he at least believes that he has a father who loves him.
As part of the ruse Lizzie (a genuinely loving performance by Emily Mortimer) writes her son letters. Frankie writes back and these go to Lizzie. She’s told Frankie that his father is on a particular ship, and when Frankie discovers that that ship is due in port, she has to come up with a solution that will not damage Frankie any further. Her solution? Pay an anonymous man to stand in for Frankie’s father.
Frankie’s such a sweet kid that the stranger can’t help but be moved to give more than he bargained for. It’s all rather sentimental, but its heart is never in the wrong place, and careful storytelling, steady directing (first time Director Shona Auerbach), and balanced acting make this a successful and enjoyable film to watch. Set in Glasgow, the story is like a gentle breeze blowing through Auerbach’s colorful landscape.