Film FestivalsMovie ReviewsSundance 2020: Uncle Frank Review

Keith NoakesJanuary 27, 202094/100
Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, Peter Macdissi
Alan Ball
Alan Ball
R (United States)
Running Time
95 minutes
Release Date
Overall Score
Rating Summary
Uncle Frank is and equally hilarious and heartfelt dramedy about a man's struggle brought to life by a sharp script, and a fearless lead performance from Paul Bettany.

This will be one of many reviews during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, to keep up with our latest coverage, click here.

On paper, Uncle Frank, may not seem all that new of a concept. However, what sets this film apart was its execution. This sometimes hilarious and sometimes sad family dramedy is sure to make audiences feel plenty of emotions over its 90+ minute running time, taking us on a heartbreaking journey full of ups and downs. The coming-of-age story shows that even the people we put on pedestals aren’t infaliable and that we can’t truly run away from our past.

Uncle Frank is of course about an uncle named Frank (Bettany) but was told from the perspective of his niece Beth (Lillis). Both were the outliers of their Southern family with Beth having aspirations beyond her family and her hometown while Frank, had already moved on countless years before and became a college professor in New York City. It was this connection that brought them together. Beth idolized Frank, however, there was certainly more going on below the surface. Ultimately, he couldn’t run away from his past forever as tragedy forced him to finally confront his demons in what would be an emotional rollercoaster of a final act.

Uncle Frank‘s sharp script finds the right tonal balance between drama and comedy but the best part of the film was undoubtedly Bettany’s career-best performance as Frank. Not only was he incredibly charming, he was also incredibly vulnerable. We can see and feel the pain and the monumental sense of relief as it was lifted from his shoulders. Meanwhile, his chemistry with Lillis was solid but this was Bettany’s film.

In the end, Uncle Frank is definitely a nice surprise that will hopefully get Paul Bettany the praise he deserves.

*still courtesy of Sundance*

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