Richard Gere is Franny and Franny is all about Richard Gere.
This is the first feature length film from Andrew Renzi and it’s a bold and risky piece of filmmaking.
Franny, a rich socialite who believes that money can buy his way into other peoples lives and also save him from any trouble he may get into. Franny is omnipresent in the life of his lifelong friends Mia and her husband Bobby and dotes on their daughter as if she were his own. A terrible turn of events and Franny does what Franny always does: use his money to save himself and buy the affections of those around him but, will it work with the grown up Olivia (Dakota Fanning) and her husband Luke (Theo James)?
In the Q&A after the film, Andrew Renzi said that the original narrative of the film was bleaker and Dakota Fanning’s role was bigger but was cut in the editing process. Therein lies the problem, whilst this is a role Richard Gere appears to have waited all his life to play he just isn’t enough to carry the picture. Building on from his role in Arbitrage and, signalling a clear move away from his sex symbol roles, here’s he narcisstic, outrageous drug addict in his 60s battling a number of demons. Whilst Gere does an admirable job of conveying the external and internal struggles of Franny it just isn’t nuanced enough a performance. We need to have some of the gaps in Franny’s history filled out such as how did he come into all this money amongst others. There were periods in the film that felt long and watching Franny hunting for drugs was interesting once but it was repeated a few times and just got tiresome.
This is an audacious film about narcissism and digging below the surface of the “good time party guy” to see the demons that lie beneath. However, the film’s weakness is that it’s a singular movie when it needed to be a dual protagonist movie.
However, if it is distributed it is worth seeing just for Richard Gere in a role like no other.
Franny was shown as part of American Dreams selection at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
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