Most movies that get released will leave some kind of impression on their audience. They could leave viewers thrilled by the story they just watched unfold, disappointed by the overall quality of the movie or sometimes even upset that they wasted their time. Sometimes, however, a movie will be so miraculously mediocre that it manages to leave no impression whatsoever — like a slight gust of wind that just comes and goes without anyone noticing, leaving it to be lost in the background of other more notable events.
“Frankie” is that kind of movie. It’s certainly not a bad movie, but it’s not necessarily a good one either; it’s stuck somewhere in between. This might actually be worse, as even a really bad movie can be memorable, while a dull film is easily forgotten immediately after watching it.
Directed by Ira Sachs, “Frankie” centers on a family’s vacation in Portugal. The character of Frankie, played by Isabelle Huppert, has invited nearly a dozen family members and friends to come stay with her in a beautiful and remote Portuguese town. When they arrive, the film splits its focus to tell each character’s story of what happened on the vacation. One couple decides to get divorced, a young woman discovers love and an older couple begin to confront their mortality, among other major life-moments.
While the emotion and relatability of these individual stories might sound interesting, “Frankie” decides to tell all of them at once, which results in none of them getting the proper time or focus to be fully fleshed out. Viewers aren’t given a chance to connect to these characters because all the emotion of the film feels surface-deep — even if the audience wanted to care the film doesn’t allow them to.
What makes matters worse is that, when watching this movie, I wanted to like these characters. Each of the actors and actresses in this movie is charming, and they give solid performances. “Frankie” boasts the likes of Huppert, Brendan Gleeson, Marisa Tomei, Greg Kinnear and more lovably enchanting performers among its cast, but each of them was given little to do. When they’re on-screen they’re great, but that’s just not often enough to save the movie from its scattered and unfocused plot.
Remember that small trend of holiday themed movies that Garry Marshall directed earlier this decade? Some of his films like “New Year’s Eve,” “Valentine’s Day” and “Mother’s Day” just tell a series of vaguely interconnected stories related to whichever holiday is in the film’s title. They weren’t particularly enjoyable movies, and I often entirely disregard their existence. “Frankie” reminds me of one of these films in the sense that it feels like the filmmakers had more than one idea for a story, but, instead of choosing one, they just threw them all together and called it good.
I can already feel myself forgetting “Frankie.” I’m writing this review a day after watching the movie, and I’m not joking that I had to look up on my Letterboxd account what movie I watched, because I genuinely did not recall what it was. I remember walking to the theater and I remember leaving, but everything in between was lost from my memory. "Frankie" just has no staying power.