My Other Left Foot
On Frankie Starlight
I watched this film by myself on a recent weeknight. I recorded several voice memos on my phone as I watched, and I’ve prepared some remarks.
Day player alert
In the context of a project dedicated to Colin Farrell, I think it’s important to reiterate here that Colin Farrell is in this feature-length film for about ninety seconds. So this entry is going to be a little light on the Farrell talk — I assure you, dear reader, this will not be the norm!
What Is The Most Irish Movie of All Time?
I’ve mentioned here before that the recently released Banshees of Inisherin was extremely Irish (Colin Farrell, famously, also Irish). My Left Foot is the reigning Most Irish Movie of All Time, but I’m always on the lookout for a successor. Frankie Starlight is set in Ireland —it’s based on a novel called The Dork of Cork — is it a contender for MIMOAT? Read on.
How many movies do you think there are about World War Two?
A portion of this movie takes place in France during World War Two. Another day player, a Nazi soldier delivering a scary announcement in the town square, is in his long coat and his tall boots and his Nazi uniform. How many times have we seen that uniform on screen? Hey, how many people do you think have played a Nazi soldier in a film?
Let’s narrow it down. Let’s just say people who have had a speaking line, in a film, wearing a Nazi uniform.
How many people is that, do you think? It has to be so many!
There are always things to think about, even when Colin Farrell doesn’t have a big part.
It’s Time to Talk About Gabriel Byrne
Colin Farrell’s not around much in this movie, but Gabriel Byrne is, and he’s great. I have some vague theories as to why.
GB’s character in Frankie Starlight is benevolent but pretty serious, even a little dour, and while I was watching this I thought about how a lot of his characters are like that, but that you can sense this goodness, this softness, about him. There’s a weightiness about him, but he’s still approachable.
He’s so watchable.
I’ll learn more about what those hard-to-put-your-finger-on qualities are with Colin Farrell as I watch his stuff, which will be fun. I’m interested in that stuff — what makes an actor a good actor; what makes a performance compelling or not.
But, as with a lot of art, I find it very difficult to put into words why I like what I like. Especially with acting. A bad actor (like most bad art) is easier to see, to have words for and explain. I find it kind of comforting when I think someone’s a bad actor, because some part of me is afraid I have absolutely no standards for acting — like some people are colorblind, and I’m acting-blind. I just trust the people on the screen. I have a childlike relationship with TV and movies — when I like them, I trust them without question, because they nourish me.
Ok, back to Frankie Starlight.
Close-up on a movie screen. It’s Rock Hudson. Or Montgomery Clift. Which one was gay? I make a mental note to get all of this information later. A teenaged girl (who I think is Gabriel Byrne’s daughter, but I’m going to be honest with you, I lost the thread of this movie in a couple places) is at the local movie theater by herself.
At that point I tune out, and start researching living room chairs. I attempt to multitask at this screening of Frankie Starlight, without much success. VEDBO, one of the chairs is called. Like Venmo, if you had a cold.
Then it happens.
Colin Farrell is credited as “Young Man in Cinema №2”; this scene takes place in a cinema; of course. When I’d read that character description before I saw the movie, in my mind’s eye, for some reason, it was the lobby of a cinema. I have no idea why. So I was on the lookout for a big red carpet and a popcorn machine, and this took me completely by surprise. But I’m delighted to report that I still managed to catch it, as I easily could have been browsing chairs and missed it entirely.
I see him.
Okay. So this group of ruffians sitting in the row behind our girl is being mischievous, and Colin Farrell is the one on the far right. It’s very exciting. She’s enraptured by Rock Hudson/Montgomery Clift, and they start coughing and saying rude things. Colin Farrell has one line: “Go on, missus.” (Or something like that.) Then one of the boys, not Colin Farrell, ends up sitting next to the girl with his arm around her.
That’s it! That’s the end! Colin Farrell’s time in this film is over!
The End/Matt Dillon
It bodes well for this project, I think, that as soon as Colin Farrell’s part in this movie was over, I completely stopped paying attention.
And then Matt Dillon showed up! I forgot that Matt Dillon was going to be in this movie. I paid a little bit of attention for a while to see what Matt Dillon was up to, but was quickly pulled back in by the siren song of chairs, and he, too, faded into the background.
This movie was fine? Gabriel Byrne is wonderful in everything, and it was mostly not the film’s fault that my interest waned. It also scratched a nostalgic itch; it felt like something I’d watch with my parents when I was little in the eighties, about children but not necessarily for children, like Small Change (which now I really want to watch again).
Frankie Starlight is unfortunately ineligible for the title of Most Irish Movie of All Time, because some of it takes place in France and because Matt Dillon’s running around with a Texas accent.
First movie in the books! Thank you for reading. Next up is The Disappearance of Finbar, which Wikipedia says is Colin Farrell’s first film appearance?? Controversial!!