A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this often-gritty drama is based on a true case of multiple personality disorder and doesn't shy away from violent and disturbing images (including a little blood), sex and sexual situations, strong language (including "s--t" and "f--k"), cigarette and pot smoking, and drinking. The story is sometimes hokey, but Halle Berry gives a strong performance, and her character ultimately tries to become a stronger, better person. If older teens can stomach the unsettling material, they may find some inspiration here.
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What's the story?
In 1950s Savannah, something terrible occurs in the life of a teen girl. Years later, in 1970s Los Angeles, grown-up Frankie (Halle Berry) works as a stripper. Strange things keep happening to her. She has occasional blackouts. A crossword puzzle is mysteriously solved, and she finds a second closet, full of expensive clothes, behind her regular closet. After one of her blackouts leads to violence, she goes to the hospital. The staff quickly dismisses her, but one doctor, "Oz" (Stellan Skarsgard), diagnoses her with a multiple personality disorder. He begins working with her, identifying her different personalities and their sources. But can they pinpoint the painful events from Frankie's past that are at the root of the trouble?
Is it any good?
FRANKIE & ALICE may look like an attempt to win another Oscar for Berry, and she does give a powerful performance here. The movie has her switching back and forth between her three personalities -- raging, confused, terrified, but holding it all together with her unflappable façade. In one early scene, she explains how she manages to work as a stripper: She just closes her eyes and pretends that none of it is there.
But the movie feels a bit rushed and simplified. Director Geoffrey Sax opts to tell his story with a lurid, soapy emphasis, reveling in crude and shocking details before tracking the story's core friendship between Frankie and her doctor. Oz is drawn as a quirky outsider, much like Geoffrey Rush's character in The King's Speech, but he has less time to develop a rounded personality. Still, this lowdown, earthy presentation is far preferable to a snooty, preachy one, and viewers who enjoy the movie will find Frankie a memorable and affecting character.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's scenes of violence. What's the difference between this kind of violence and the kind you might see in an action movie?
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