Uncle Frank Review: A Heartwarming & Heartbreaking Story

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Uncle Frank is a touching tale of identity, family, and acceptance. Several moments are tearjerkers, but not always for the same reason.

uncle frank movie poster

Uncle Frank is a movie that I knew was going to make me cry. But I didn’t know that it was also going to break my heart, and warm my heart, all at the same time. This movie is truly a tale of learning to be true to yourself, and accepting who you are, even if others around you cannot. It is also about family. And about love. And shares a very powerful message. 

In this movie Paul Bettany plays Frank Bledsoe, a man who is all but estranged from his family. Sure he pops in for events now and then, but he has moved away and there is clearly a disconnect there, although it is a while into the movie before we fully understand it.

The story is narrated by Betty (Beth) Bledsoe, who loves spending time with her Uncle Frank, She senses that he is different from the rest of the family, and she doesn’t understand why her grandfather, Daddy Mac, is always so mean to him. Again, we will figure that all out later on in the movie and get ready to cry when you do. Like, a lot.

uncle frank

When Beth learns that her Uncle Frank is gay early on in the film, she accepts him right away. She also discovers that he has been in a relationship with Wally (played by Peter Macdissi) for ten years. Trust me when I tell you that Wally steals the show with his humor, heart, and well worded advice. When Daddy Mac unexpectedly dies Beth and Frank drive to the services together from New York, giving them time to bond and get to know each other better.

Frank has clearly been hiding a lot from his family, but there seems to be more to the story. Over the course of the film a tragedy he experienced when he was younger comes to light. This made me understand where he was coming from better, and also made my heart break for him. Although there were moments where I really hated his character, and it was clear he hated himself too.

uncle frank

Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, and Peter Macdissi appear in Uncle Frank by Alan Ball. Photo by Brownie Harris.

A Bit Of A Lull In The Middle

The middle of Uncle Frank gets a little bit slow and dare I say, boring. It is obvious that some kind of big reveal is coming, and likely some emotional scenes to go with it. But it takes almost too long to get there. During the drive to the services there are some funny moments that happen along the way — but they didn’t feel necessary. 

When they stop to stay at a hotel and in the garage where the car is dropped off to be fixed, specifically. I understand why they are there, to point out how they were being treated — both Frank and Beth — but if they were removed I think the movie would have flowed a bit better. 

A Movie We Need Right Now

Uncle Frank is set in the 1970s but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be relevant today. Unfortunately homophobia is still an issue in 2020, which is mind blowing to me in all honesty. Both Frank and Wally have not come out to their families for fear of the way they may be treated.

This movie shows the torment felt when someone is forced to hide from family (or in Wally’s case an entire nation) for just being who they are. It makes people second guess themselves, and often times hate themselves. I hate that there are people still going through that pain every day in this world. Hate it. It seems so unfair.

To see a movie set that long ago, and know that people are still being treated like this by strangers, and even loved ones, is just so disturbing. And heartbreaking.

uncle frank

Overall Thoughts

Uncle Frank starts off a bit slow, but there are a lot of fantastic moments that make this movie more than worth watching. It is only an hour and a half long, with the final thirty minutes being by far the best, and emotional, part of the movie.

Both Paul Bettany and Peter Macdissi give incredible performances in this film but for me, Macdissi is the standout of the film. The way that he carries himself caused me to connect with him immediately. I genuinely liked him. He is hilarious, smart, and boy does he love Frank with every fiber of his being.

Uncle Frank is a film about family, love, and acceptance — not just from others, but from yourself as well. A must watch drama that is sure to tug at your heartstrings!

Check out my favorite quotes from Uncle Frank.

uncle frank

About Uncle Frank

In 1973, teenaged Beth Bledsoe (Sophia Lillis) leaves her rural Southern hometown to study at New York University where her beloved Uncle Frank (Paul Bettany) is a revered literature professor. She soon discovers that Frank is gay, and living with his longtime partner Walid “Wally” Nadeem (Peter Macdissi) — an arrangement that he has kept secret for years. After the sudden death of Frank’s father — Beth’s grandfather — Frank is forced to reluctantly return home for the funeral with Beth in tow, and to finally face a long-buried trauma that he has spent his entire adult life running away from.

Amazon Studios will release UNCLE FRANK
on Prime Video November 25th, 2020

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