We know Alan Ball, author of American Beauty and creator of Six Feet Under, has an interest in repressed homosexuality and death. Both are the focus of Ball’s “Uncle Frank,” who stars in North Carolina in the 1970s, starring Paul Bettany, a NYU college professor who is not part of his family but may have to come out if he comes after him Father’s funeral returns home.
It is told from the perspective of Frank’s teenage niece Beth (Sophia Lillis), who is apparently the most open-minded member of the family. The cast is great: Stephen Root as father, Margo Martindale as Mammaw, Lois Smith as older aunt, Steve Zahn and Judy Greer as Frank’s brother and sister-in-law. Bettany conveys a wide range of sensitive emotions in contemporary mustaches and glasses.
As a gay uncle myself, I can say the humor in Uncle Frank is sitcom-esque, right down to Frank’s recruiting of a lesbian friend to play his girlfriend at a family reunion. The drama is melodic – big and histrionic (Frank is a recovering alcoholic, so wait to hear the will reading). But that means if you want to make me cry, all you have to do is show a family that they support their gay son / brother. I’m just a man