AN AXE murderer emerges from the light.
photo: Continental film
This film is the directorial debut of actor Bill Paxton, who also plays the role of Dad in the movie. He should get credit for not falling into the Hollywood trap of making just another useless vanity project. Frailty portrays the destruction of one southern family, which is tested in extreme and unexpected ways. Furthermore, it is a movie with a classic Hitchcock feeling, about faith and the not always distinguishable natures of good and evil.
On a stormy Texas night, Fenton Meiks (McConaughey) walks into an FBI office and informs a skeptical agent (Boothe) that his younger brother is the serial murderer known as the God's Hands Killer. Flashbacks reveal the tale of their twisted childhood that caused such behaviour.
A loving, working-class father (Paxton) one day awakens his two young sons (O'Leary and Sumpter) and reveals the following information: they are a family of superheroes. God has chosen them to destroy demons disguised as ordinary people. An angel assured him that God would provide a list of names and magical weapons. Younger Adam agrees with his father and thinks they are God's hands at work.
Intrigued by the script, in which the title refers to the frailty of human perception, Paxton found himself wanting more involvement than the role of Dad. He realised that he had found the perfect project for his directorial debut and chose an old Hollywood approach, where all of the darkness is implied instead of being explicit, with the help of breathtaking music. Paxton knows exactly what to show and what to let us imagine and that is his greatest strength.
He plays a dad with humanity and is credible even when the character becomes more and more extreme. McConaughey creates a sense of anxiety with his voice leaving us to think he might be telling the truth, lying, or that he is just crazy. The character of young Fenton has to carry the film; luckily the producers found very talented kid named O'Leary.
The movie unfolds against a rural southern landscape of farmhouses and old fashioned police stations, successfully achieving the warm, rustic look of a small Texas town, though filmed in California. The characters really stand out against the muted and neutral colours.
Frailty starts out like a typical Bible killer story. With all the twists saved for the final moments, it turns out to be different than most films with this theme. Deeply unsettling, it leaves us with the disturbing message that the real horror may be waiting for us at home.
2. Sep 2003 at 0:00 | Martina Horáková