Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Frankie and Alice Review - theurbaneurbanite

Thanks to sansanityus for the heads up


Film Review: Frankie & Alice -- Starring Halle Berry

Friday, November 19, 2010

I didn't know what to expect going into the SAG nominating committee screening of Halle Berry's new film Frankie & Alice, a small, independent project that's been in the works for twelve years, shot on a shoestring budget in 25 days (only four months after Berry gave birth) co-produced by Berry and her longtime manager Vince Cirrincione. But I was pleasantly surprised.

Frankie & Alice, Berry's first film since starring in 2007's Things We Lost in the Fire, is a psychological drama that chronicles the life of Frankie Murdock, a stripper with a multiple personality disorder.

Based on a true story, the film, which takes place in Los Angeles in the 1970's, touches upon motherhood and interracial relationships as they pertain to Frankie's crippling disorder and her haunting past. Berry gives her gutsiest and most unflinching performance to date. And is a gem to watch as Alice, one of the personas she plays who happens to be a racist, white woman.

I asked Berry how she responded to the material and the characters she played coming from her own mixed background.

Left to Right: director, Geoffrey Sax; Halle Berry and moderator, Scott Feinberg  
She explained that she had an innate, visceral response to the piece because she has racists people in her own family. She also discussed how her white mother was vilified for marrying a having children with a black man, all of which are themes in the film.

The premise of the script is nothing new. The female multiple personality disorder thing has been done (Sybil, The Three Faces of Eve) but how many films about multiple personality disorder feature a black woman in the lead role? How many major motion pictures showcase mental illness in black culture? Talking about feelings, seeing a psychiatrist and embracing mental health are still taboo topics in the black community that no one wants to acknowledge let alone discuss. It's refreshing to see a major Hollywood star like Berry take an interest in the under addressed topic and bring it to life on screen.

Watching Berry shift from one character to another right before your eyes is breathtaking and will leave you both uncomfortable and fascinated.

There are other solid performances in the film by Stellan Skarsgard who plays Berry's psychiatrist and Phylicia Rashad who plays Berry's evasive mother.

Frankie & Alice hits theatres December 17.

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