Dear Frankie is the story of a mother and her son Frankie. Frankie writes letters to his dad who works on a ship, but in reality, the mother pretends to be the dad and writes back. Frankie's father left the family when Frankie was a baby. When the boat comes to their town, Frankie's mom must find a man to play his dad, a man who changes their lives. Frankie is so special: very clever but deaf. As his mother puts it, Frankie's deafness was a gift from his real father.
Although this film is a wonderful, intriguing story, what is so amazing is its portrayal as a reality. The movie is so cleverly crafted that it seems that the audience is there beside the characters as a part of the story. The Scotland setting also plays into the beauty of the film. The actors: Emily Mortimer and Gerard Butler (The Phantom of the Opera, 300) are two of the freshest British actors out there.
The characterization of the film is very little. There is not a lot of detailed history about the family or other characters. It is as if this story was just picked up by a passerby and continued for all to unravel as they go along. The incomplete characterization plays as role as one of the themes for the mother. She does not want to know anything about the man who will pretend to be Frankie's dad and she does not want him to know about him. They have spent their whole lives running from Frankie's real father that they don't know to stop. They moved from place to place without explanation or settling down.
The presence of Frankie's "dad" changes everything for the family. He is the first male figure to love and embrace Frankie and his mom. They do not know how to open up and love, but this man fits so perfectly into there lives. Even though they both know this man is not a real father for Frankie, they feel much closer to this father figure and he changes their lives forever.
One important feature of the film is the silence. The movie is very reminiscent of everyday life, with reasonable pauses and moments that are often ignored in plot time. Several scenes take a long time to unfold because they play out as real life. Several times when the mother is picking up the mail, half a minute goes by before she receives the post. Even the moment before Frankie's "dad" and mom kiss is painstakingly long, however it is a legitimate time period.
Also, many of the scenes unfold without much conversation. The most significant moment is when Frankie watches his mom and "dad" dance. The music fades away and becomes muffled. This scene is meant only for Frankie, and the film depicts it from his point of view. All of the silence is for Frankie.
Frankie is the narrator of the story, which is slightly ironic because in the film, everyone just wants to hear his voice. They only way of communication is in his letters to his dad which his mom receives. She continues her facade because she cherishes his voice. In the end, she does regret that she carried it on so long in Frankie's life. Frankie is smarter than everyone in the film though. His last letter solves all of the mysteries for Frankie. He figures out that his real dad was dead, his mom had been writing the letters, the man he met was not his real dad, and that everything was going to be okay. Frankie is still happy to be where he is because he knows now he'll get to stay.