Quickie Review: Uncle Frank

It’s 1973. And small town America is still not awake to their gay citizens. 18-year-old Beth, from Creekville, South Carolina adores her Uncle Frank (Paul Bettany, Avengers, Journey’s End) who lives in New York. So where does she decide to go to college, but NYU, where he’s a beloved professor of literature. Naive as she is, she’s surprised to discover that her uncle is gay and has a partner! But when his father, her grandfather, with whom he’s had a frosty relationship dies, the two of them head south for the funeral. And his partner Wally/Walid (Peter Macdissi) unexpectedly joins them. It’s a family melodrama that doesn’t always work, but is elevated by some strong performances, particularly Paul Bettany.

As the trio heads south, Frank remembers back to the moment his relationship with his father broke, the moment he had his first great love and the tragedy that followed. Wally and Beth are there for support, though Wally has to hide their relationship, and the closer they get to home, the harder it is for Frank to cope. There are moments in the film that feel very Green Book. Maybe it’s the setting or the subject matter or the look of the film. It has some humorous moments and the relationship between Frank and Wally is beautifully drawn, but sadly, the story doesn’t hold up until the end. It starts strong, but Beth gets lost and things get wrapped up with a pretty bow by the end. It’s one of those, “seems like they had a good story in there that got lost along the way” films. But since it’s streaming for free (if you have Amazon Prime) it’s worth watching for the performances.

Uncle Frank is available on Prime Video.

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