Dear Frankie [2004]

Driven by intelligent, constantly surprising and moving performances from the film's leads, Dear Frankie stars Emily Mortimer (Lovely and Amazing) as Lizzie, Scottish mother of Frankie (Jack McElhone), a deaf and highly intelligent 9-year-old. Constantly uprooting themselves and relocating from town to town, Lizzie and Frankie are on the run from the latter's abusive father, a fact unknown to the boy, who believes his dad is a busy seaman sending letters full of adventure and love. In fact, Lizzie is writing those missives, but she is faced with a challenge when Frankie discovers his father's ship will dock nearby. Lizzie hires a kind, handsome stranger (Gerard Butler) to play Frankie's dad, creating an odd situation in which ever-growing lies become a conduit for love, and Lizzie's repressed desires come to the fore with a man posing as her husband. The moral tangles are of interest in director Shona Auerbach's charmingly paced, quietly insightful drama-comedy, but so is the glorious feeling of watching these characters come fully alive. --Tom Keogh

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