Review: Uncle Frank

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Paul Bettany and Sophia Lillis are exceptional in an important film that explores familial dynamics across generations and geography as Bettany’s gay literature professor heads come and comes out.

Lillis plays Bettany’s niece, a young woman who heads to college at the school at which her uncle teaches. She learns one evening that her uncle is a gay male and in a committed relationship, just before her grandfather passes and the two of them road trip back for the funeral. Uncle Frank is a satisfying tale that likely isn’t for everyone, but features a cast that includes Margo Martindale, Judy Greer, Steve Zahn, and others, heavy hitters that bring a genuineness to the material and keep it flowing forward. Each interaction between Bettany and his family members is a fresh, heartfelt conversation that may wade into emotional heaviness or, at times, inject unexpected humor.

What strikes me about the film is the authenticity with which struggles around identity are handled, each choice reflecting points that are reminiscent of my own conversations with friends and family. It all leads to a remarkably sentimental climax that may even evoke tears from viewers as it did me.

This isn’t an Earth-shattering film and the script lacks the depth of many others tackling the same concepts, but it works well for what it is and with who is involved to deliver a charming product with the message of acceptance.

Uncle Frank is available on Amazon Prime Video this Wednesday.

Rating: 4/5

Photo from Wilmington Star-News

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