Frankie/The Stranger from Dear Frankie
Gerard Butler, Emily Mortimer, Jack McElhone
I might be a sucker for men who care about children and animals, and that probably explains (partly) this entry. Dear Frankie is a quiet Scottish film about a man (Butler) posing as a deaf boy's (McElhone) father. Frankie's mom (Mortimer) has carried on a good lie that Frankie's father is out to sea - in reality, the man in question was a drunkard and an abusive father whose violent tendencies are really responsible for Frankie's deafness. The Stranger - a friend of a friend - comes in for a small fee and takes the boy out for a day. There's something very understated and complex about Frankie and the Stranger.
We discover that Frankie knows this is not his father but goes along with it anyway (cause it's not the father part he cares about - he just wants someone to take an interest in him). And the Stranger - who starts off a bit aloof - never becomes overly sentimental or talkative to the boy, but he starts to give him an attention and care that shows he feels some kinship to the boy. There's a lovely moment when he takes Frankie to a aquarium store (a nice, visual trip for a boy who can't hear) and watches as the boy plays with the fish. The Stranger leans down next to him to look into the tank, but takes a long moment to stare at the side of Frankie's face and you see a realization - not some grand epiphany or sudden character turnaround - softly creeping over him. It's in this moment that you realize he might just love this boy he just met and for some reason it feels sincere and authentic in a way very few movies could pull off.