In director and cinematographer Shona Auerbach’s sweetly moving Scottish film, a protective young mother named Lizzie (Emily Mortimer) secretly answers letters written by her deaf nine-year-old son Frankie to the abusive father they’ve been on the run from ever since he was little. Not wanting to confess the truth about the father’s true nature, Lizzie prefers to write Frankie back creative and kind letters, pretending that her estranged husband is simply away working on a ship, navigating around the globe. When Frankie learns that the ship is scheduled to stop at a nearby dock, Lizzie panics and, along with a friend, finds a man to pose as Frankie’s father. Things get complicated when the man seems to be too good at the job and after the family of the real father contacts Lizzie, requesting permission for to see the boy. While some overly cynical American critics complained that the film was manipulative Hallmark treacle, I found myself genuinely moved—who doesn’t love a beautiful story every now and again? It’s sad that we’ve become so untrusting of any emotional tales that we’re willing to disregard a wonderfully touching little film simply because it pulls at our heartstrings. I’m definitely not alone in my disagreement, as the film has earned awards and accolades around the globe both for its director and as an independent foreign feature in its own right. In fact, in the year of its release, Dear Frankie was the only film from the UK selected for inclusion at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, where it earned a fifteen-minute standing ovation.
Songs featured in Dear Frankie