Monday 3 August 2009

Frankie and Johnny is AWESOME!

I just watched 'Frankie & Johnny' for the first time and just wanted to say -- what a great, great, great film.

I love films like this, and we don't really seem to get them anymore. I'm talking about those gritty New York pictures about trying to get by, trying to live your life. Frankie and Johnny is the tale of two characters played by Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino, who are just trying to get by in life. Just trying to make a living. But Johnny (Pacino) is fresh out of prison and after meeting Frankie (Pfeiffer) he falls in love.

This is Pacino playing Pacino, but in a way you rarely see. He's still got all the answers and is full of confidence, but you can also see how breakable he is, and how needy he is-- he needs Frankie from the second he meets her, and nothing will deter him. But it's Michelle Pfeiffer's performance that's really incredible. Frankie is a woman who wants to live comfortably, working by day and then sitting at home on her own with her VCR (it was 1991). And when Johnny comes after her, she resists it and fights it, basically for the whole movie.

It's a film about past scars; it's about not wanting to be vulnerable to being fucked over again. In that respect it's something pretty much everyone can relate too. Pfeiffer's performance is beautiful-- she doesn't even have to say a word, you see the conflict and fear in her eyes and her bodily movements. She's fighting Johnny, she's fighting herself, she's fighting everything-- it's powerful viewing.

The thing that's sad is that we just don't get these movies anymore. Throw a man and a woman together now and it needs a sell-able gimmick, like 'She has to get married to stay in the country' (The Proposal) or a man who knows the formula to winning women can't get it to work on the woman of his dreams (Hitch) -- basically every romance or comedy you see comes with a concept, something amusing or silly that the plot revolves around. It's much harder to sell a studio exec or producer on "Two New Yorkers who work in a cafe argue and fight a lot, and struggle to accept themselves and each other." Nobody wants that. But they should, because it's films like 'Frankie and Johnny' that really speak something truthful and honest, and they get great performances from some of our finest actors.

Care to share?


  1. Ah, gorgeous film - and subtle. You're right, we don't see enough of that these days. You've inspired me to watch it again!

  2. Never seen this one. I'll have to check it out.

  3. OMG! How is it possible that you've only just watched this film???? It's sublime, I love the ending with Debussy's beautiful "Clair de Lune" weaving it all together ... I would class this as a perfect film, it has everything.

  4. I watched Frankie And Johnny again last weekend and found it an even better film than I remembered it being.
    Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer are superb and I can never understand people who say that Michelle was "too beautiful" to play the role of Frankie. For me she was totally believable and I love the subtle and understated way she conveys her emotions.
    Sad to say I agree with your assessment, they just don't make films like this anymore!