A movie based on a real life record of multiple personality disorder, Frankie & Alice is less a revealing or dramatically involving case study, than an inmates taking over the asylum kind of vibe. Halle Berry certainly has her hands full here convincing audiences that she’s no less than three separate gloomy characters of radically different races and ages stuck in one body. But the effect is simply shrill and sappy when not borderline bizarre, and as it lurches towards the end credits, essentially way over the top.
Directed by Geoffrey Sax and drawing from the troubled life that played out in the early 1970s of African American sassy LA stripper Frankie Murdoch, the bittersweet biopic stars Berry as the go-go dancer in a cage channeling her mysterious anger through an increasingly violent and confused provocative sexuality.
When she’s found dazed and confused in the middle of a downtown intersection, Frankie is hauled off to a psycho ward where she hooks up with Dr. Oz (Stellan Skarsgard). He’s an eccentric staff shrink with a few peculiar secrets of his own who bonds with his hostile patient, taking an unusual beyond the call of duty interest in her case.
Eventually the daffy duo assemble enough clues to decipher that Frankie is not only a part time racist white Southern belle along with a terrified black tot. But that the three alternating personalities likewise possess their own individual IQ’s and distinct biological traits and vital signs. Phylicia Rashad also turns up eventually as yet another mommy from hell on screen, who may have done something awfully wicked to her daughter that possibly exacerbated all this convoluted anguish.
Berry’s assorted personality predicaments, however dedicated and dramatically assured her performance, may not be the only dilemma plaguing this movie. There are also six multiple personalities contributing to this story as writers, adding to the narrative confusion. So while Frankie may have resolved her thorny psychological issues in the course of this two hour therapy ordeal that is equally draining for the audience, the same cannot be said for the cognitive dissonance plaguing the fragmented, heavy-handed screenplay.