Frankie Starlight

on November 22, 1995 by Kim Williamson
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Screened at Toronto. "Let us begin with beauty: The moon in eclipse," intones the opening voiceover, and with that bold stroke "Frankie Starlight" proclaims its art-house intentions. The story, based on Chet Raymo's novel, seems woven of wonderful threads: After seeing her father killed by Nazis and friends killed by explosion, a young French woman, Bernadette ("Map of the Human Heart's" Anne Parillaud), is impregnated on an Allied troop ship headed for Ireland and gives birth to a dwarf she names Frankie (Alan Pen-tony). He becomes a student of the stars, just slightly farther out of reach than for most. Befriended by an Irish customs officer ("The Usual Suspects'" Gabriel Byrne) who has a brief affair with his mother, Frankie himself falls in love with the officer's daughter Emma ("An Awfully Big Adventure's" Georgina Cates), who despises him. A Texan (Matt Dillon) who'd been aboard the troop ship comes calling; Bernadette and Frankie move to the Lone Star State, but a melancholy Bernadette returns to her adopted Ireland and suicides. The now-grown Frankie (Corban Walker) writes a book about his and his mother's lives and gains a fame that crosses his path again with the also grown Emma (Rudi Davies).
   Wonderful threads, but in the hands of director Michael Lindsay-Hogg ("The Object of Beauty") the warp and weave never quite come together, with an odd-couple "Love Story" romance looping around existential angst. "Frankie Starlight" is more winsome than wistful, and the material seems to want to tug deeper. However, Parillaud, Byrne and Dillon are in top form, and the uniqueness of the storyline makes this a standout for specialized audiences, especially those of the distaff demographic. Starring Anne Parillaud, Matt Dillon and Gabriel Byrne. Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Written by Chet Raymo and Ronan O'Leary. Produced by Noel Pearson. A Fine Line release. Drama. Rated R for language and some sexuality. Running time: 101 min.
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