Movies as quiet and graceful as Frankie are becoming harder to come by, and not even one starring the legendary Isabelle Huppert, in one of the most understated, poignant performances of her storied career, is going to change that.
In part, that's because a story like this is a hard sell to the masses: A beloved French actress (Huppert), diagnosed with cancer, draws her extended family to a vacation on the coast of Portugal to settle her affairs and say farewell.
The ensemble drama gets messier and messier, but remains blessedly free of histrionics and showy performances. Everyone involved, including the great Brendon Gleeson and Jérémie Renier (as Frankie’s husband and son, respectively) and Marisa Tomei, playing her longtime friend, never feel like they’re acting, giving Frankie an intimacy that, along with its gorgeous setting, is warm and deeply affecting.
Not all the subplots make the same vivid connection—there's a shaky story line involving Frankie’s teen granddaughter finding romance with a charming local—but they also don’t detract from the elegant sweep of this simple yet profound treasure.