I was excited to be given early access to an Amazon Studios screening to see the latest film by Alan Ball, Uncle Frank. It’s described as a road trip drama about a gay man who is forced to return to his homophobic hometown and family and has to face past memories that resurface along the way.
On a personal note, I have a soft spot for Alan Ball because I directed his play “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” for a Stage Troupe at BU. Like Uncle Frank, the play dealt with trauma, queerness, and chosen family. I appreciated Ball’s ability to go to dark places but bounce back to humor a couple seconds later. Uncle Frank has a lot of these moments, mostly through flashbacks that interrupt the present to give context into Frank’s psyche. Frank’s boyfriend, Wally, breaks up these darker moments with comedy and lightheartedness. The dynamic between the two characters shows real love for what it truly is: messy and complicated, but forgiving and understanding.
The best aspect of this film has to be its cast. Almost every single actor in this cast has an amazing filmography to add to their own credibility as well as the hype and superiority of the movie. Sophia Lillis, who plays Beth, is a young powerhouse who holds her own among established stars like Paul Bettany and Peter Macdissi. My only wish is that with such a star-studded ensemble, viewers deserved more time with the minor characters. Secondary roles often have the best ability to shine in more than the moments they were given (Judy Greer is right there! Give her more scenes!). Overall, watching Frank, Wally, and Beth banter is really enjoyable, and watching the characters’ personal growth is a rewarding experience.
As everyone settles down to spend more time indoors, watching movies is a great way to live vicariously. Since this film is centered around a road trip, it’s a great escape from the cold winter approaching. It also serves to remind audiences that loved ones can be a great source of support during difficult times. I won’t spoil anything, but I can promise that you will feel good after watching this film.
Uncle Frank is now available on Amazon Prime Video.