Franny is Francis Watts, played by Richard Gere, one of the most charasmatic and distinguished-looking actors of Hollywood. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the very first frame captures him at work, an architect so suave and debonair that many females will go weak in the knees if he were three decades younger. (One of my English Literature professors once said in his tutorial class that the main character almost never appears right at the start of any great work.)
Franny gets into an accident which kills his best friend and his wife and he is full of guilt and remorse. Five years later, he is unkempt, needs a walking stick and is addicted to morphine,. Sometimes, when he’s “really sad, (he) goes hiding”. When he gets a call from Olivia, daughter of his best friends, saying that she is newly married to Luke, a doctor, and would like to move back, Franny spruces himself up and throws a party for them, during which he sings “My Girl” with a live band. (Again. to my delight!) Franny buys for Olivia, Luke and their yet-to-be-born baby the house Olivia grew up in. He has also paid Luke’s study loan and gets him a job at the hospital. What is his motive? As he keeps repeating, he is “60 years old and (he) needs help”.
This drama is like a Hitchcockian thriller and I’m especially impressed by Richard Gere’s performance — from how he subtly insinuates himself, then with more force, into the lives of Olivia and Luke. From his hand tremors to the shivers on the couch, to the pain and suffering, and the sense of loss and anguish and feelings of guilt (“that the accident was my fault”), Gere’s performance is top-notch. At the scene when he contemplates whether to cut his wrist or arm but eventually ends up slicing off a piece of his finger, I had to squeeze my eyes shut! What’s more, there’s the use of appropriate music to enhance the mood!
The music for the movie is well-chosen. I only recognise Schubert’s German Dances & 7 Trios, different sections from different movements of Beethoven’s Symphony No 3 (The Eroica)
and the song My Girl, but there are at least four others which eludes me because my attention is too caught up with the drama going on.
O, how I look forward to the next Richard Gere movie! (I’ll definitely watch this one again, on DVD).