Amazon’s interesting new rural family drama, “Uncle Frank,” stars Paul Bettany as the titled gay man who must return to the South and reconcile with past trauma when his deeply religious father dies. With the company of his 18-year-old niece Beth and his Arabic partner of 10 years, Wally, Frank struggles with not only his anguish towards his father but the open wound of a traumatic event.
When Frank has to drive from New York to his father’s funeral with a curious Beth, played by Sophia Lillis, he refuses to bring Wally in the fear his family won’t accept his sexuality. Wally, played by Peter Macdissi, tags along in a rented car despite Frank’s objections.
The road trip uncovers guilt-ridden memories of Frank’s tragic first love that created a major rift between him and his father. He spirals out of control after being humiliated during the reading of the will.
Despite heartwrenching elements, the film is also easily filled with lighthearted moments. It’s a story about family and acceptance, and pushes the message of living your truest self, despite what anybody else says.
Wally is one of the best characters in the movie. He is flamboyant, sassy and cares deeply for Frank. His lively character injected into the depressing story makes it more enjoyable.
The comparison between Frank and Beth as two outsiders is similar to the two distinct worlds they live in. They both left their small, closed-minded hometown for the hustle and bustle of an open-minded New York City. Watching them thrive in one environment yet struggle in their natural habitat is relatable to anyone who has felt outside of their comfort zone.
The supporting cast is filled with top-notch actors, but I wish some of them had more time to shine. Stephen Root plays Daddy Mac, and although we mainly learn about his character through a few scenes and flashbacks, I wish as an audience member he was explored more. Even the rest of the family is portrayed as stereotypically southern and religious.
“Uncle Frank” is a slightly above-average film that should be watched because of its message and themes. It’s part coming-of-age story and part road trip movie and will make you cry and laugh. This film is available to stream on Amazon Prime.