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"Frankie & Alice" Movie Review: 2 Stars
by Roger Moore
True cases of people suffering from multiple personality disorders are among the most harrowing encounters most of us could ever expect to face this side of the supernatural. The idea that a person is not just acting like wildly different people but really is inhabited by several distinct personas whom they believe themselves to be is just chilling.
So it's a shame that the movies have rendered such rarities humdrum and routine. But actors just love the idea of slinging several accents and wearing several guises during the course of a film. Halle Berry certainly did.
That goes a long way in explaining "Frankie & Alice," a long-shelved 2010 melodrama "based on true events," with six credited screenwriters (and two other writers credited for the story) and nothing new to add to the genre.
Frankie is a stripper in 1970s Watts, Los Angeles. The veteran of the gilded cage/take-it-off club tells a newcomer that she just lets "the music take me, like I'm watching myself from the outside." It's how she copes.
But the stage isn't the only place she does that. All sorts of things can set Frankie (Berry) off. And when she goes, she becomes a drawling, hellfire-and-brimstone quoting Southern belle, railing about "idolatry" and "covetousness" and the coming "wrath of God."
Which is a real buzz kill for her love life. That and her tendency to turn violent and then black out.
One such episode puts her in the reluctant care of Dr. Oswald (Stellan Skarsgard). He's wondering if it's her drug use. And then the doctor meets the other woman in Frankie's head.
"In mah experience, doctors are most always tiresome bores," "Alice" acidly drawls. "Or drunks. Which are you, Dr. Oswald?"
Alice tests at a lower IQ, writes with a different hand and feigns racist, anti-Semitic leanings. The jazz-listening research scientist-turned-clinician Oswald is fascinated.
"Frankie & Alice" is a soapy period piece that hits all the usual mileposts of filmed versions of such stories. Frankie refuses to admit she has a problem, but we see flashbacks that hint at the reasons for the disorder and meet her protective mother (Phylicia Rashad), who knows more than she lets on.
Skarsgard plays Oswald with a sort of offhanded good humor, but the doctor is a stock type. And Berry, winner of an Oscar for "Monster's Ball," treats this showcase for what it is -- an acting exercise, and a fairly broad one. She can and has pulled off versions of these women she's playing here in other films. And the 32-year-old stripper character has a hint of "See how well-preserved I am?"
Yes, she is. Of course, she filmed this vanity project almost five years ago, which tends to undercut it as a bid for more Oscar-worthy roles. That and her performance of this unoriginal script.
MPAA rating: R (for some sexual content, language and drug use). Running time: 1:41.
Frankie & Alice is a drama starring Halle Berry. It is about a woman living with two personalities; two people inside if her. Frankie is a go-go dancer, living as both a seven-year-old child and a racist woman named Alice. She must work with a therapist to overcome this...or to learn to live as two
'Frankie & Alice' Movie Review & Movie Trailer