Frankie & Alice

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film primarily takes place in Los Angeles in 1973. Frankie, a black female gogo dancer, unknowingly suffers from dissociative identity disorder, caused by a traumatic incident from her childhood (the death of a white man she was in love with, and her mother murdering her newborn when she realized the child’s father was her white lover), which she has repressed. The film begins with Frankie performing at a local strip club. She is one of the best strippers at the club, and often demands the attention of wealthy Wall Street businessmen. One night the club’s female employees go out for a “Girls Night”. As the girls observe all the men at the bar, Frankie gets the attention of a well-known bartender. She agrees to go to his home for casual sex. Before the two can engage in any sexual activity, Frankie switches to an alter ego and cracks the man’s head open with a vase. Word of Frankie’s violent activity spreads to the strip club quickly, and Frankie is fired from the needed job. The same manic episodes occur while Frankie is at the laundromat and a wedding. During a session with the psychiatrist Frankie learns that she has two alters: Genius, a seven-year-old child; and Alice, a Southern white racist woman, whom Frankie struggles to overcome. Through regular psychiatric sessions with her doctor, she begins to recall the traumatic events that led to her split personality. She realizes that a white man with whom she was in love died in a car accident while they were on the road. In the same session, she also uncovers the memory of the birth of her child. Moments after the birth, her mother realizes that the child is half-white and takes it away to kill it, thus triggering her personality to split.

After she watches the taped sessions and puts everything together, she begins the healing process, taking control of her life and semi-integrating the personalities that Dr. Oz assures her will always be present.

REVIEW:

There was a time when I was obsessed with all things Halle Berry. I even wanted bad things to happen to the guy she was married to at the time. To an extent, I’m still obsessed with her, which is why when I come across a film of hers that I did not know existed I have to check it out. Here’s hoping that Frankie & Alice will be far superior to Dark Tide.

What is this about?

In this true-life psychological drama, a black woman battles to vanquish the racist alter ego that’s taken root inside her unsettled consciousness. With help from a psychiatrist, she explores the traumatic childhood event at the root of her problems.

What did I like?

Oscar was no fluke. Remember when Halle Berry won that Oscar for Monster’s Ball? There was speculation that she only got it because she got naked and had dirty sex on screen with Billy Bob Thornton. Only the voters know for sure, but i can say that she acted her firm little behind off in that movie and is doing just as much if not more in this one. She has to portray not one, not two, but three distinct characters, but they all live in the same body. It takes some talent to pull that off, true talent, ladies and gentlemen! Now why couldn’t she do Storm justice in the X-Men films?

Mama, is that you? I’m from the era where families would gather around the television every night and watch shows together. With my family, one of these shows was The Cosby Show. I shudder to think of what it would have been like had I had Claire Huxtable for mother and got in trouble at school. “Let the record show” that this woman was beautiful, successful, and able to do her matronly duties. What a woman! Phylicia Rashad more or less disappeared after the show ended, popping up here and there. I must say that i can see her as Halle Berry’s mother, though. They have enough of a similar look, even though Rashad has not aged well, to pass for mother and daughter. Good on you, casting people!r

Music. Set in the 70s, one has to know that you’ll be hearing some good ol’ soul/r & b hits, but i wasn’t expecting to also get a nice influx of jazz, as well. Not just a random jazz song playing in the background, mind you, but an explanation for why he was listening to jazz. For this jazz lover and aficionado, I really was able to appreciate it because typically these films just give us some popular songs of the day and a current rap song to play over the end credits.  By not following that pattern, this film earned tremendous amounts of respect from me, and many others who have similar viewpoints when it comes to film music.

What didn’t I like?

Supporting players. Halle Berry and Stellan Skarsgard are not only the focal point of the film, but they are the shining points of this film. While this is great, the other cast members do little to nothing. Why is this? Who knows? My theory is that the writers were so intent on making sure Berry was given a meaty part that everyone else’s suffered. I also believe that there were some scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor, which would have fleshed out some characters and not made them so one-dimensional, such as Berry’s sister, played by Chandra Wilson.

Alice. I wonder how it is that Frankie came up with a southern belle racist as one of her personalities. What triggered the mixture  e, if you will, that would go on to create such an ironic personality? Seems to me that she didn’t see Frankie’s reflection in the mirror. She must not have. I can just tell this is the kind of woman who would go crazy if she saw she was in a black woman’s body. This isn’t Quantum Leap, after all! Alice is the creepiest of all the personalities. They should have made this a genuine thriller and let Alice run wild.

Tara. A few years back, there was this show called United States of Tara in which the titular character had multiple personalities brought on by childhood trauma. As the show progressed, a new personality appeared and began to kill off the others. It was…interesting, to say the least. Where am i going with this? Well, i can’t help but wonder if that was made with that show lingering overhead. The similarities are there, women with multiple personalities, supportive families, etc.

Frankie & Alice is a dark, emotional, psychological drama that captures the audience’s attention from beginning to end You are constantly invested and intrigued as to what will happen to this woman and her other personalities. I think that is the real selling point for this film. Such a shame that it didn’t get better publicity. I believe this could have been a contender. Do i recommend this? Yes, it is isn’t very often we get to see Berry flex those acting chops, and her ability to seamlessly transition between characters is remarkable. You need to check it out ASAP!

4 out of 5 stars

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