'Frankie & Alice': Halle Berry takes on challenge of multiple personalities
Halle Berry plays both title characters in Frankie & Alice. The former is a scrappy go-go dancer. (That's a contrivance that allows Berry to dance in a giant birdcage for lust-drunk, currency-clutching men without having to take her clothes off.)
But she keeps having these scary breaks with reality that eventually put her under the care of a psychiatrist played by Stellan Skarsgard. He introduces Frankie to Alice, an imperious, bigoted Southern lady who also lives in her skin. Along with a simpering 7-year-old.
Perhaps unavoidably, there's an enormous amount of loony melodrama as Berry flips among her personalities and flashes back to her original trauma. Although it is based on a true story, the dramatization doesn't make much sense psychologically.
The story is set in the '70s, but seems to transpire curiously outside of time. The actual provenance of Frankie & Alice is similarly murky. It was shot in 2008, and its original release in early 2011 was canceled. The intervening years have not enhanced the film's influence.
Berry has proven she's willing to take on enormous challenges, and she certainly exceeds her grasp here. Perhaps that's why Frankie & Alice plays more like an elaborate acting workshop than a movie.
Frankie & Alice ** (out of four stars)
Directed by Geoffrey Sax, with Halle Berry, Stellan Skarsgard, Phylicia Rashad, Chandra Wilson. Distributed by Lionsgate and Codeblack Films.
Running time: 1 hour, 41 mins.
Parent's guide: R (profanity, adult themes, drug use).
Showing at: UA Riverview Plaza 17; AMC Franklin Mills Mall 14; AMC Cherry Hill 24; AMC Neshaminy 24; AMC Hamilton 24; Regal Warrington Crossing 22.