“Frankie and Alice” could have been an Oscar contender, but because of the choppy screenplay, melodramatic acting and disjointed direction, I’m afraid the film and lead actress won’t even be considered for a Golden Globe.
From the moment Berry’s character Frankie was introduced onscreen, I couldn’t help but think, “This won’t end well.” An hour and 40 minutes in, my assumption was validated. The story itself is very compelling and the talent involved noteworthy. But, unfortunately, a good story and great cast does not a good film make. Halle Berry’s latest project isn’t totally terrible, however. I did like Phylicia Rashad and Stellan Skarsgård. Even Halle Berry had moments of greatness, but their talent was wasted in this mess of a film.
Set in the ’70s, we first meet Frankie (Halle Berry) pole dancing in a strip club. One evening, after a night of partying with the girls, she decides to go home with a male co-worker. As things get hot between Clifton and Frankie, one of her alters takes over and she freaks out. No longer aware of where she is or whom she is with, and afraid for her life, Frankie strikes her date in the head with an object, flees from his apartment into a busy intersection, and collapses onto the street. Mistaken for a junkie, the police take her into custody, but after having the wherewithal to phone the psychiatric clinic that treated her once before, she is evaluated by Doctor Joseph Oswald (Stellan Skarsgård) who diagnoses Frankie with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
Using hypnosis as a means to integrate her alters, Doctor Oz discovers why Frankie’s personality split into three. The trauma, as one can imagine, was very severe. Try as she might to convey this, Halle does the best she can, but her performance is either way over the top or devoid of depth. Meanwhile, seasoned actors Rashad and Skarsgård portray their characters flawlessly and with little effort.
At times, I found myself cringing at the poorly-written dialogue. The screenplay, written by too many writers over a course of years to list here, lacked the substance needed to draw the viewer into Frankie’s struggle. I was never emotionally invested in Frankie’s fight for sanity. At times, I was bored. Mind you, “Frankie and Alice” is only 100 minutes long. As for the editing, it’s flat out sloppy. The score, I don’t remember it.
I can’t say I recommend this film as watching it may frustrate more than entertain. But I will commend Halle Berry for attempting to bring to light the human side of mental illness. Unfortunately, the message didn’t resonate because of poor execution.
“Frankie and Alice” (which also seems to go by “Frankie & Alice”) opens Dec. 10 in Los Angeles, and Feb. 4, nationwide.
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