Sundance Exclusive Review: Uncle Frank

Year: 2020
Runtime: 95 Minutes

Director/Writer: Alan Ball

Stars: Rochelle Aycoth, Paul Bettany, Hannah Black

By Rosa Parra

“Uncle Frank” is one of the first films I thoroughly enjoyed at the Sundance Film Festival. It follows Frank (Paul Bettany), a university professor who lives in New York with his significant other. It’s the 1970’s, and Frank must confront his family when they find out about his sexual orientation in the most painful and unexpected form.

We’re introduced to Frank’s whole family in the opening sequence leading up to his introduction. His niece, Beth (Sophia Lillis), seems to be the only family member who admires and enjoys spending time with Frank. Beth soon begins attending a university in New York, where she’ll be spending a considerable amount of time with her uncle. Soon she finds out about Franks’s sexual orientation, and she is now faced with a dilemma of keeping her uncle’s secret while trying to figure out how she feels about her uncle. Additionally, she is meeting an enthusiastic and charismatic Walid, who’s been eager to meet some of Frank’s family members.

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The costume and production design are excellent. The strongest asset of this film is its script and story. The movie doesn’t shy away from showcasing homophobia and why Frank is hesitant to come out to his family.

This film is terrific! Paul Bettany’s performance is superb, and I’ll even state that it’s his best performance of his career. He manages to successfully convey a variety of emotions, and it’s done brilliantly. Sophia Lillis is also extraordinary in this movie as well as Peter Macdissi, who gives a genuinely funny and moving performance, their natural chemistry leaves you pleasantly delighted to watch this trio on the big screen. The supporting cast also gives strong performances, with particular members being more memorable than others.

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Throughout the film, we get flashbacks of Frank’s childhood, including how he discovered he was gay and how he dealt with it. It’s no secret I’m not the biggest flashback storytelling fan, but in this film, I didn’t mind it. A situation arises where Frank must return to his family home, and this is where the film goes on a road trip ride you’re soon to forget.

The costume and production design are excellent. The strongest asset of this film is its script and story. The movie doesn’t shy away from showcasing homophobia and why Frank is hesitant to come out to his family. They’re certain moments that will activate your tear ducts. Lucky for us all this film has been bought by Amazon and don’t be surprised if it’s released during the award season. Bettany’s performance is Oscar-worthy. Overall, “Uncle Frank” is a moving, funny, and heartfelt movie that will stay with you for quite some time.

I give this film an 8 out of 10

Uncle Frank - Still 1

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