Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Frankie and Alice

Frankie and Alice
Halie Berry, Phylica Rashad, Chandra Wilson and Stellan Skansgaard

Rated: R 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: February 4, 2011 Released by: Freestyle

Halle Berry produces and stars in a fact-based tale of mental instability set initially in the "blaxploitation" time of 1973 in Los Angeles.
A familiar, quite discordant Frankie & Alice has the biracial Oscar-winner looking and sounding different in many scenes as her "character" has dissociative identity issues. So, this melodrama may drawn in those who fondly remember the small-screen Sybil and The Three Faces of Eve, both featuring Joanne Woodward.
Here, Berry's top-earning, looked-up to go-go dancer Frankie Murdoch "distances" herself in such a seedy, yet exotic and lascivious milieu coming across fairly intelligently. Bewilderment is felt by caring mother (Phylicia Rashad) and acrimonious sister (Chandra Wilson) based on a suppressed, haunting trauma. She's detached in a way from a fragmented life experience.
This girl interrupted, not really a victim at first glance, seeks medical help in a chosen facility as a defensive, messed up Frankie gets involved with noted research psychiatrist Dr. Oswald "Oz" (Stellan Skarsgaard). "Oz" is reluctant at first not having applied his work in some time, but after treatment sees two other " split personalities" distinct from Frankie. "Genius" is the extremely bright adolescent scared, but vigilant to Frankie's well being. There's the eponymous "Alice", a bossy prejudiced Southern belle criticizing Frankie as a slut the "white" woman perceives her to be.
Skarsgaard is okay as the steadfast doctor, but had more appeal as a manipulative math professor in Good Will Hunting even if there's some credibility in being to draw out a devastating past with cynicism from those one's profession.
So, Frankie & Alice follows convention from a healing process of a presumed actual case history in an unbalanced manner with the occasional flashback. Like the horror suspense Gothika (where a criminal psychologist is imprisoned in the place she worked), it isn't the right fit to the kind of actorly aplomb which befits a still comely Berry. Maybe she immerses her self with abandon into a weak screenplay unflatteringly helmed by Geoffrey Sax (Whiteout). What could have been a meaty psychological melodrama is more of an emotionally deficient, wildly mixed-bag.

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