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Uncle Frank

Uncle Frank is the one member of the family who left Creeksville when he could and is living in New York City and works as a professor of English literature. He rarely comes to visit, but his niece Beth is taken by him because he is the only family member who “looks her directly in the eye”. After graduation, she moves to NYC to attend New York University, when she finds out that he is gay. Not long after her move, her grandfather dies, and she and Uncle Frank take a road trip back home for the funeral. The film is about family dynamics and secrets that drive them. The era is the mid-1970’s when being gay was still not talked about much, and prejudice ran deep; it was a time when people were afraid of having the police called on them in certain parts of the country. Overall, I liked the film, mostly because of the performances of Paul Bettany (Uncle Frank) and Sophia Lillis (Beth). Having seen many gay-themed movies over the years, there really isn’t one I can recall that covers this topic in particular, so the film adds to the genre, even if it is not done with much depth. The ending was a bit too “feel good” for my tastes, and Uncle Frank’s partner Walid felt rather contrived in the story. I discovered that Alan Ball, who wrote and directed this film, also was the screenwriter for American Beauty. This film is no American Beauty, but it does a good job of peering inside the family dynamics and exposing tragedy and loss. (2020; 3 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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