(Canada, 100 min.)
Dir. Geoffrey Sax, Writ. Cheryl Edwards, Marko King, Mary King, Jonathan Watters, Jo Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse.
Starring: Halle Berry, Stellan Skarsgard, Phylicia Rashad, Chandra Wilson.
What’s the deal with Frankie & Alice? This Canadian drama carries a well-deserved Golden Globe nomination for Halle Berry that it received when Frankie & Alice had a qualifying run in the awards race of 2010. Audiences may now see the merit in Berry’s nomination now that Frankie & Alice has a home video release, but it’s weird to watch the film and wonder what exactly made it linger on the shelf for four years when it obviously had a sliver of support. Berry gives a searing performance in her turn as Frankie Murdoch, a woman who suffers from multiple personality, so it’s an absolute shame that distributors threw Frankie & Alice under the bus.
Berry’s dedication to the film, which she also produced, frequently elevates the mostly by-the-numbers direction of the film, which glides through Frankie’s treatment far too quickly and cleanly to suggest that Frankie & Alice is anything other than a one-woman show. (Although Stellan Skarsgard and Phylicia Rashad are quite effective as Frankie’s doctor and mother, respectively.) Even if one takes Frankie & Alice simply as an a solo act, though, the film feels doubly compelling for the bizarre place it holds in contemporary film distribution. Why the handlers of Frankie & Alice don’t think a performance this strong and a film with such notable representations of both race and mental illness don’t deserve the effort is a mystery for audiences to correct.
Frankie & Alice is now available on home video from eOne Films.