AFI Fest: Uncle Frank Review

In 1973, when Frank Bledsoe and his 18-year-old niece Beth take a road trip from Manhattan to Creekville, South Carolina for the family patriarch’s funeral, they’re unexpectedly joined by Frank’s lover Walid.

We all have family members we are keen on, the one we feel has it all together, and just put on that pedestal. That’s the relationship we have with Beth and Uncle Frank.

Next, we understand that Frank is gay, and during this timeframe, we know that this isn’t okay. Frank struggled with it and is scared to be vocal about it even when on the road trip with Beth, but he is reluctant to divulge further into it.

Here, we start to understand Frank and his upbringing’s background story, from being caught with a boy in his bed to it, causing him to run at his fastest opportunity. Dealing with the trauma of it all, Frank has never been able to live to the fullest.

As we transition, Alan Bell writes this emotionally riveting screenplay about the struggle of a gay man in this era and makes it relatable to how it still is an issue. Frank’s writing is polarizing because you have this man who struggles with the idea of being gay. After all, his dad rebuked and loathed the idea of this for his entire life. As we peel back the layers of Frank, we feel this empathy, this pain, and his struggle. I’m just floored as I am writing this.

Speaking of Frank, who is played by Paul Bettany, I don’t have the words inside to articulate how breathtaking a performance he displayed in this film. I felt every emotion that Frank felt throughout this film, and it was all because of Paul.

Also, Sophia Lillis and Peter Macdissi can not be ignored either as both gave phenomenal performances. The chemistry the three shared throughout this movie was effortless and fantastic.

Finally, we get to the end of the movie, and the last fifteen minutes of this movie are emotionally charged and will leave you in puddles for hours. Margo Martindale is such a great actress. It was a beautifully written end to this delight of a film.

The Verdict:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Paul Bettany’s performance in Uncle Frank will leave you in tears.

Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.

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