Uncle Frank (2020)

★★★★ | by

Posted on Dec 30, 2020

© Amazon Studios | Mike Tackett


Accompanied by his teenage niece, a gay literature professor reluctantly returns home to attend his father’s funeral.

We arrive at a wholesome, melodramatic movie that is well worth your hour and a half attention on Amazon Prime.

Alan Ball, best known for his American Beauty screenplay, focuses again on the dysfunctional family in middle-America. Taking the directing helm as well this time, Ball is given the chance to perfect the story not only though the script but through the camera too.

The plot for the movie focuses on the character Uncle Frank, but more importantly, is told from the perspective of the niece. From a storytelling point of view, this makes sense, but when you sit through an hour and a half, you come to the conclusion that actually, this was all about Uncle Frank. Alan Ball really dropped the ball with the character of the niece, played by the talented Sophia Lillis. We learn that a conversation earlier in the movie changed her life, yet we don’t see that transition from shy teen to confident woman. There was more than enough room for that story to transition properly, but we’re left with a gaping hole.

When you align Bettany’s portrayal in A Knights Tale as the bumbling supporting character to the charming Heath Ledger, and the romantic lead next to Kirstin Dunst in Wimbledon, you start to wonder why you wondering why you haven’t seen the Brit on your screens more. Bettany’s portrayal of Uncle Frank will have you remembering his highlights and not his lows. Bettany gives one of his best performances to date, and only solidifies his ability to provide range.

A solid, grounded film with drama, comedy, and love. It’s a worthwhile watch.

I was always happy when my Uncle Frank came for one of his rare visits. Nobody else in my family ever seemed interested in him. – Beth

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