Slack Mystery ‘Frank the Bastard’ Proves You Can Go Home Again (But It Won’t Be Interesting)


The failings and dashed dreams of the Sixties Revolution are the undercurrent of writer-director Brad Coley’s convoluted “Northern Gothic” mystery, a basic-cable-caliber drama in which tragic outsiders harbor obscured small-town secrets and the overconfident belief they’re characters in a Eugene O’Neill play.

Still dizzy from the death of her father and a fresh divorce, anxiety-prone Manhattan writer Clair (Rachel Miner) is convinced by her photog pal Isolda (Shamika Cotton, who will unbelievably make a friend named Tristan) to return to her ramshackle seaport home of Edgeport, Maine.

Having fled in her youth from a nearby communal farm after her mom died in a mysterious fire, Clair now has the locals shifty-eyed, especially the hostile clan of junk baron Cyrus Gast (William Sadler) as he spearheads a divisive land development deal. “Around here, people don’t talk about their problems. They’re too busy living them,” chides the aging cousin Clair never knew before, as it only takes a day or two for our heroine’s snooping to stir up chaos, bond her with Cyrus’s oddball of an illegitimate son, Frank (Andy Comeau), and bring a ho-hum familial twist to light.

Overlong and slack in suspense, the film is most noteworthy for its patchy accents and the late Ellen Albertini Dow (the “rapping granny” from The Wedding Singer).

Frank the Bastard
Directed by Brad Coley
Opens July 24
Available on demand