Uncle Frank (18+, 95 min.) Directed by Alan Ball ****
Of all her relatives, teenager Beth Bledsoe (Sophia Lillis) adored her uncle Frank (Paul Bettany) the most.)
As a college professor in New York City, he always charmed Beth on his rare home visits to Creekville, South Carolina, with clipped nails, aftershave, and curiosity about what he had to say. “I could listen to him talking all day long – and he was the only adult to meet my eyes.”
But Beth also felt a kinship with her uncle, since he, like her, seemed to be someone outside the family. Patriarch Daddy Mac (Stephen Root) particularly picked on him, which Beth couldn’t understand as her uncle was always smart, funny and considerate, encouraging her to be “the person you choose to be, not the one everyone says you are.” “.
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Four years ahead, until 1973, Beth is now studying at the same university as her uncle. While having dinner with him and his longtime girlfriend Charlotte and her parents, she felt a little awkward, she can’t wait to spend a lot of time with him. However, for some reason he seems to be keeping Beth at bay, so when he hears that he is having a party, he decides to destroy it. Then he meets Wally (Peter Macdissi). It turns out he is Frank’s real “roommate” and that he also “borrows” Charlotte for special family occasions.
But as Beth adapts to the news, a family tragedy ensues. Daddy Mac had a heart attack and died. Faced with an impending funeral and an almost unsafe flight, Frank and Beth decide to set off. Wally is desperate to come, though Frank, to his and Beth’s frustration, doesn’t believe this is the right time – or the place – to reveal his true self.
Thanks to his Oscar-winning script for american beauty and unforgettable TV stories such as Six feet underground and True Blood, screenwriter and director Alan Ball proved to be an excellent representative of transferring family traumas and tensions into a dramatic life. He made the characters you cared about – even if you didn’t necessarily agree with all their actions. They were polished, shaded and complex. After a relative decay in the last decade, Ball is clearly back on track with this polished, perfectly guided, if somewhat predictable period drama.
Like the higher profile Hillbilly Elegy (which just hit Netflix) is a story about a young man from a rural community who tries to find himself in the world and juggle two very different belief systems. For the most part, it is more skillfully handled, subtly handled here, although it feels like everything is a little too neatly resolved.
From Michael C. Hall and Mena Suvari to Peter Krause and Anna Paquin, Ball has also had the opportunity to stage some of the best actor roles in his career. And here is the Bettany trio (Solo: A Star Wars Story, Wimbledon), Macdissi (True Blood) and 18-year-old Lillis (It: Chapter Two, I can’t handle it). Looking and sounding like a young Amy Adams (explains why she was cast as the teenage version of HBO’s multiple Oscar nominee Sharp objects), Lillis certainly has a long and bright future ahead of her, given her turn here.
Uncle Frank starts broadcasting on Amazon Prime Video on November 25.