Rental Unit: "Dear Frankie" 

The movie does not let up in its assault on our sense of reality. It's not enough to have the stranger take a liking to Frankie and his lonely mother. He must become a symbol for the good kind of masculine role model, as well as the epitome of the mythical strong, silent type — a single, handsome male who was just waiting for a lonely female to show up and dump her kid on him. "Let me ask you one question," he blurts to the mom in a signature moment of cognitive dissonance. "Why on earth did he leave you?" As the movie would have it, men can be divided into two camps: the good kinds who quietly take care of their responsibilities and the ones who deserve to be eaten away by the most painful cancer.

There are moments in "Dear Frankie" that look below the surface melodrama: Frankie managing to overcome the tough first day of school; the mom facing a similar gauntlet of tipsy revelers in a smoky bar. It's these dangerous places we want to go, not where people all live happily ever after. — Wayne Melton



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