Combustible Celluloid
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With: Halle Berry, Stellan SkarsgŒrd, Phylicia Rashad, Chandra Wilson, Alex Diakun, Joanne Baron, Brian Markinson, Matt Frewer, Rosalyn Coleman, Sean Tyson, Melanie Papalia, Kira Clavell, Joey Bothwell, Adrian Holmes, James Kirk
Written by: Cheryl Edwards, Marko King, Mary King, Jonathan Watters, Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse, based on a story by Oscar Janiger, Philip Goldberg, Cheryl Edwards
Directed by: Geoffrey Sax
MPAA Rating: R for some sexual content, language and drug use
Running Time: 101
Date: 05/17/2010

Frankie & Alice (2011)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Split She Soup

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Frankie and Alice may look like an attempt to win another Oscar for Halle Berry (Monster's Ball); it's a bit rushed and simplified. However Berry is no fluke, and she gives a powerful performance here, 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.

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 the different personalities and their sources. But can they pinpoint the painful events from Frankie's past that are at the root of the trouble?

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. The doctor is drawn as a quirky outsider, much like the Geoffrey Rush character in The King's Speech, but with less time to develop a rounded personality. Still, this lowdown, earthy presentation is far preferable to a snooty, preachy one; viewers that succumb to it will find Frankie a memorable and affecting character.

Frankie and Alice received a theatrical release in 2014.

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