When the sun comes up, her loved ones wander the cobblestone streets in search of what could only be a 5-star bed and breakfast on Yelp. Strolling around town is her unhappily unmarried son, Paul (Jeremie Renier); her picky daughter (Vinette Robinson), who is planning on divorcing her husband Ian (Ariyon Bakare); her hairstylist Ilene (Marisa Tomei, terrific), along with her husband who can’t stop talking about his work on Star Wars (Greg Kinnear); and Frankie’s first (Pascal Gregory) and second (Brendan Gleeson) husband cause, you know, it’s France.
For a breezy 90 minutes, these characters aren’t just looking for cafes, beaches, and over-lit homes; they are looking to find themselves. Shot in long takes in a minimalist style, you get the sense that these events are happening in real-time. Everyone is having relationship problems, which sometimes leads to silly conversations. One supposedly intellectual interlude goes like: “Hey, we just met…here’s a 15-minute story on how rosy my first love’s skin was, and how love can never last.”
“…the camera cleverly catches the characters’ eyes searching for companionship…”
That’s what separates this picture from its source of inspiration. Eric Rohmer (contrary to popular belief) did more showing than telling. As in Claire’s Knee, when the camera cleverly catches the characters’ eyes searching for companionship like hungry wolves on the prowl. And Sachs seems to be unconcerned about finding any grander meaning; the way Rohmer’s films, under all the talk and knee fetishes, were about people trapped in their narrow-minded ideals.
What it does have is a warm heart, a pace that flows like the tides and an ensemble cast that shines from top to bottom. It’s a rare treat to see Huppert and Tomei share the screen. Or to see Huppert play a piece on the piano for Gleeson. “It’s beautiful,” he says with a grin. “It’s very sad” is Frankie’s abrupt response. Frankie, the movie, is overflowing with beautiful images, so it’s sad that it never decides to wander down a path that had something to say.