February 25, 2006 -- This heartwarming little film concerns Lizzie, (Emily Mortimer of “Match Point”) a mother who makes up a fictitious back story about her son's brutal father. She tells nine-year-old Frankie that his father has been away for years on a long sailing trip. When the ship in question comes to port nearby, the mother feels forced to conjure up a fake father.
She goes hunting for a suitable man willing to play the part for a fee. Miraculously, she finds a man (played by Gerard Butler of “The Phantom of the Opera”) willing to pretend he is Frankie's father. The man spends two days with her son, Frankie (played Jack McElhone) and his mother and becomes more of a father and husband than the boy's real father ever was.
The boy's real father shows up and causes trouble. The mother must make a difficult choice about whether to tell her son the truth about his real father. Her solution is unconventional, to say the least. This makes for an unconventional, but effective love story without a satisfying conclusion. There is a difference of opinion about how much of the truth that Frankie has guessed by the end of the film. Some people think Frankie knows that the man pretending to be his real father is not his real father. Others, like myself, don't buy that theory. If Frankie knows the truth, there would be a very simple solution to the dilemma presented at the end of the film. None of the people in the film are dummies, any of them could figure out the solution in about 10 seconds, yet none of them does. Since they don't, one must conclude that while Frankie may have his suspicions, he doesn't know the truth.
This film is superbly acted by the entire cast. The relationship between mother, son and stranger is remarkable, and much of it is achieved without dialogue. The direction by Shona Auerbach hits just the right emotional chords. This is a little gem of a film. It rates a B.
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