UNCLE FRANK is one of those messy movies that when it is over you are really happy you watched. Writer/director Alan Ball tackles a difficult chapter in queer history and brings it to life with wonderful characters, a powerful story, and a lot of heart at the end.
In a period when much of America is fighting for its freedoms, some gay men have been driven further into the closet by the spectre of AIDS. This is the world explored by Beth (Sophia Lillis), embarking on her first time away from home in Creekville, South Carolina. In New York, the only person she knows is Uncle Frank, (Paul Bettany) a professor who is accidentally outed in a series of events that provides rich and appreciated character detail.
Frank’s partner, Wallid, (Peter MacDissi) is an essential part of this mix, and when Frank gets a call of a family death, the unlikely trio make a journey through their past and into the south.
Here the plotting gets a little strained, and some red herrings are dangled when Wallid speaks Arabic on a public pay phone. As Frank’s past relationship, and that with his father take center stage, Ball does not resist pulling any emotional punches.
For some, it might wrap up too easily, but this is a story from family history too often swept under the rug. Here it is given all of the glorious sunshine it deserves.