CRITICAL – Awarded at the Deauville American Film Festival, this delicate story by the creator of True Blood Alan Ball follows, in the seventies, the return to the fold of a professor who hid his homosexuality from his family.
The spectators of the American Film Festival of Deauville were not mistaken in awarding him the Audience Prize. In an ambitious and often tormented selection that auscultated the inequalities and original sins that plague the United States, My Uncle Frank was, with the very nice childhood story Minari, one of the cheerful rays of sun and lightness of this 46e editing. Alan Ball’s bright story of a coming-out in America’s Seventies is available on Amazon Prime Video.
Professor of literature at New York University, Frank Bledsoe (Paul Bettany) rarely visits his hometown of North Carolina. But he always fascinated his niece, Beth. By its culture, its refinement, its kindness and also the melancholy that surrounds it. Why is he always taken to task by his manly father, Daddy Mac? This beloved uncle is the only one who encourages Beth to continue her education instead of getting married like her cousins right out of high school. He’s even willing to pretend to be his father so that she can get the pill prescribed. When she registers at her university, Beth will discover her double life. If he passes himself off as a hardened bachelor, Frank has actually shared his life for ten years with a man: Wally. When Daddy Mac, carried away by a heart attack, denies Frank in his will and reveals his homosexuality to everyone, the prodigal son will have to face his family and the demons of his past.
Used to family meal scenes, Alan Ball is at ease. He orchestrates several. Humor and misunderstandings are there. Creator of the series Six Feet Under and True Blood, he also wields embarrassed silences and shifty glances like a double-edged sword. It doesn’t matter whether the staging is wise and sometimes clumsy with its flashbacks, he draws in these intimate closed doors a deep America, certainly still stuck in its machismo and its racism like an old aunt who does not seem to have mourns the Civil War. But this old South, bathed in sunshine so dear to Tennessee Williams, is not that tight to open-mindedness. He may even be changing …
Far from his superheroic exploits at Marvel where he plays the android Vision, Paul Bettany combines elegance and painful restraint. This befits his character struggling with his childhood traumas. A perfect contrast to his frozen lover, Wally, a debonair giant and eternal optimist even if he had to flee his native Saudi Arabia. He is played by Peter Macdissi, companion to the city of Alan Ball. The Oscar-winning screenwriter ofAmerican Beauty has put a lot of his family history into My Uncle Frank. From the death of his sister when he was 13, to a distant uncle, also homosexual, who in his youth had escorted the body of his best friend who had drowned. A delicacy that radiates the screen.