Frankie & Alice
Director Geoffrey Sax
Language English
Opens Sept. 20

Frankie (Halle Berry) is a go-go dancer in 1970s Los Angeles, who’s raking it in at a nightclub in the Watts district and enjoying a fairly wild lifestyle, but increasing blackouts and psychotic episodes lead to her getting committed to a mental institution. There she finds herself under the care of Oz (Stellan Skarsgard), a concerned psychotherapist who soon discovers that Frankie suffers from multiple personality disorder.

The sting is that although Frankie herself is an African-American woman, one of her alter-egos is a Southern white racist who rants about “filthy negroes.”

“Frankie & Alice,” directed by Geoffrey Sax (“White Noise”), is supposedly based on a true story, but that doesn’t make the above plot twist any less difficult to swallow — a problem further evidenced by a script that seems to have required eight writers. Still, for a 2010 film that is only now seeing the light of day, it’s not half bad. The interplay between Berry’s street-savvy Frankie and Skarsgard’s bookish doctor is engaging and often touching. However, the buildup to the traumatic secret in Frankie’s past, which led to her breakdown, is stretched out for so long that the audience will see the big reveal coming a good half hour before Sax unveils it.

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