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October 17, 2009

Frailty

by Franz Patrick


Frailty (2001)
★★★ / ★★★★

Bill Paxton directed this haunting thriller about a father (Bill Paxton) who supposedly began to receive messages from an angel to carry out God’s plan. That is, to kill seven people who disguised themselves as regular individuals. Paxton recruited his sons (Matt O’Leary and Jeremy Sumpter) to carry out God’s bidding; one willingly followed his father’s footsteps and one chose to think for himself and went against his father’s wishes of murder. But all of that happened in the past. The first scene opened when Matthew McConaughey, as one of the brothers, confessed to an FBI agent (Powers Boothe) who was in charge of the God’s Hand case that he knew the real identity of the murderer and where the bodies were buried. The most effective and chillling element about this movie was the lens we choose to see a story and therefore create varying perspectives and conclusions. Essentially, one could evaluate Paxton’s character as deeply mentally disturbed or he really did get messages from a higher power. The film’s tone was consistently sinister throughout and each scene had a payoff so it was nothing short of engaging. I also have to commend the acting, especially from the actors who played the kids, because if they weren’t very good, the story wouldn’t have held up as well because they were pretty much in every single frame. The one thing I loved about Paxton’s direction was that he didn’t use the all-too-typical formula of scaring kids or putting them into dangerous situations so we would care more about them. They were actually human beings who were capable of moral evaluations about the things they’ve done and the things they were about to do. This is a thinking person’s movie because there were a lot of unexplored untones that become more and more interesting the more one thinks about them. (Which I actively choose not to discuss because I refuse to give away the ending.) “Frailty” is a suspenseful, first-rate underrated thriller about a man who was suddenly broken or enlightened. Like a solid piece of literature, the interpretation is really up to us.

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