Dear Frankie -- The Emotional Connection

In between dancing my butt off at Mary Stella’s birthday party Saturday night, I visited with friends, old and new, many of whom I only see at writers’ conferences. So, not very often, certainly not often enough.

At one point talk turned to movies. I brought up Gerard Butler to Terri Brisbin, knowing she’s a mega fan like me. She recently saw P.S I Love You and gave Kate Duffy and me her glowing recommendation. I asked if she’d seen him in a more obscure film called Shattered? More Gerard Butler talk ensued and Kate said, “But his best film is Dear Frankie.” Terri and I gasped and clutched our hearts. I said, “The. Hottest. Kiss. Ever!”

Both Kate and Terri agreed and we excitedly discussed certain aspects of the film—including that KISS.

Last night I remembered I blogged about Dear Frankie a couple of years ago. I tracked it down at my old blog and the content also reminded me of a discussion I had with Cyndi on Sunday about movies and connecting with the characters. I’d like to share that post with those who missed it first time around. And as a bonus, at the end, I’ve included a video teaser. *Sigh*


Movies, and books, are my favorite form of escapism. Unfortunately, I’m harder to please these days. So when a movie (or book) grabs me and sucks me in, when I’m still thinking about it days later, I feel blessed. I just experienced magic.

For me it’s about connecting with the characters emotionally. For instance, I enjoyed Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven, but I was not blown away. Once I left the theater, the movies left my mind. I didn’t connect with the characters out of the starting gate. I didn’t feel their pain or plight, or in the case of KOH, believe the character period. The set-ups were too rushed for me therefore I didn’t root as I should have for the heroes as they fought their battles—emotionally and physically. Braveheart, in my opinion, established an emotional connection with the protagonist right up front. By the time the opening scene played out with William Wallace as a young boy, I was hooked. I understood his motivation, believed his actions, and rooted for him and his cause with all my heart. That movie remains in my top five all-time favorites.

I recently watched another film that grabbed my heart and won't let go. It's a contemporary piece set in Scotland. Dear Frankie explores love in all its many forms. Mother/son, man/boy, friend/friend, man/woman, grandmother/grandson, mother/daughter. The writing, acting, and direction--superb. I borrowed this synop from IMDb...

Nine-year-old Frankie and his single mum Lizzie have been on the move ever since Frankie can remember, most recently arriving in a seaside Scottish town. Wanting to protect her deaf son from the truth that they've run away from his father, Lizzie has invented a story that he is away at sea on the HMS Accra. Every few weeks, Lizzie writes Frankie a make-believe letter from his father, telling of his adventures in exotic lands. As Frankie tracks the ship's progress around the globe, he discovers that it is due to dock in his hometown. With the real HMS Accra arriving in only a fortnight, Lizzie must choose between telling Frankie the truth or finding the perfect stranger to play Frankie's father for just one day...

In the recent issue of the magazine 'The Writer' there is an article titled-- 'A Screenplay That Connects' by Rick Reichman. He asks, "What are the three most important factors of a successful film?" The answer: "Emotion, emotion, and emotion." "...Emotion is the key not only to what makes a movie effective, but to what makes a screenplay compelling. If our audience finds no emotional connection to with the script, they will have no connection at all with the movie."

As far as I'm concerned, this notion applies to books as well. Whether the work is comedy, drama, or a mix, for it to be really special, the reader needs to connect emotionally with the characters. It's the difference between an okay read and a read that will stay in their hearts. It's something that I'm aware of more than ever as I tackle my own storytelling.

Dear Frankie is a critically acclaimed film that didn't get the coverage and attention I believe it deserves. There's no cursing, no stuff blowing up, no special effects. It's a small film with a big heart. It's magical. Do be warned that the actors are Scottish and their accents are quite thick. I have a good ear for accents, but even so, it took a few minutes for my ear to adjust. Hang in and soon the accents won't be an issue at all. For the romantics out there, this film contains the hottest kiss ever... and the couple barely touch.


Julia Templeton said…
I enjoyed DEAR FRANKIE, and you're right--the kissing scene sizzles. I also love the movie DANGEROUS BEAUTY. The heroine & hero capture your heart from the get-go. Their journey is incredible, the chemistry scorching, and what a love story!
flchen1 said…
Beth, I'm pathetically out of touch in terms of movies, etc. Dear Frankie sounds lovely--I'll have to see it! Thanks for blogging about it today :)
Beth Ciotta said…
Julie, DANGEROUS BEAUTY is in my all time top favorites!! The chemistry IS scorching. In was all in the way they 'looked' at one another. The longing. SIZZ-LE!
Beth Ciotta said…
flchen1, I can almost promise you will LOVE 'Dear Frankie'. It's an emotional and super sweet story. If you watch it, let me know what you think. :)

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