Frankie and Alice (Review)

(2/04/11; Drama)
Halle Berry, Stellan Skarsgård, Matt Frewer, Phylicia Rashad, Chandra Wilson
SCR: Cheryl Edwards, Marko King, Mary King, Jonathan Watters, Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse
DIR: Geoffrey Sax
MPAA: Rated R for some sexual content, language and drug use.
1 hour 41 mins
BOX: $10,670

Berry stars as Frankie, a real-life 70s-era stripper who slowly realizes she has multiple personality disorder, but not after getting into trouble and ending up hospitalized. She bonds with a progressive psychiatrist named Dr. Oz (I’m not kidding) played by Skarsgård and spends the film trying to understand her condition.

Among Frankie’s “alters” are “Genius,” a 7-year-old child and “Alice,” a Southern white racist. There are secrets and repressed memories on this familiar road, not to mention the opportunity to watch Berry channel various characters, sometimes in the same scene. One egregious moment happens when the camera stays on Berry for two minutes as she bounces back and force between her alters, and yes, Berry is quite committed to her performance(s). But this type of role needs to be handled with a specific directorial hand so that the performer going out on a limb doesn’t end up looking foolish.

The script, credited to six different writers, ends up recycling a dozen other films. It’s like Good Will Hunting (1997) with multiple personalities. I’m sure everyone concerned with this award-friendly melodrama had the best of intentions but despite powerhouse moments from Berry and Skarsgård and a funky ‘70s vibe, Frankie and Alice never breaks out of the mold. (Freestyle Releasing)


Author: Dennis Willis

Dennis Willis is an award-winning producer, TV host, producer, director, editor (he preferred Avid until a torrid affair with Adobe Premiere, and the rest is history), author and film critic (print and radio). Dennis produced and hosted the TV programs Reel Life, FilmTrip, Soundwaves (1983-2008) and produces the annual Soundwaves Xmas program. He is currently the film critic on KGO Radio in San Francisco, and a member of both the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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