June Butler snuggles up to Peter Murphy and Rachel Moriarty’s latest feature ‘Róise and Frank’.

A heartwarming tale of shaggy dogs, a grieving widow, and a lonely young boy, Róise and Frank holds all the ingredients for a tearjerking denouement with not a dry eye in the house guaranteed at the closing credits.

Written and performed in the Irish language, Róise and Frank is set against the stunning pastoral backdrop of the Gaeltacht area in Ring, Co. Waterford. The film, while coming in at 85 minutes, is a well-paced yarn that certainly packs a punch and Frank, the shaggy dog of the film’s title, deserves equal billing with his human co-stars.  

Róise O’Meara (Bríd Ní Neachtain) is trying to come to terms with the sudden passing of her husband, Frank. Even though he died two years earlier, Róise is still grieving, and finds quotidian tasks difficult and challenging. She completes mundane duties with weary resignation, steeling herself to exist another day. Her physician son, Alan, hilariously played by Cillian O’Gairbhi with a series of deadpan one-liners, is unable to assist his mother on either a medical or emotional level and is instead forced to helplessly witness Róise’s descent into melancholy. As a perfect menacing foil, Róise’s neighbour Donncha (Lorcan Cranitch) loiters with intent and decides that Róise’s time of mourning is over regardless of Róise or her son’s wishes.  Donncha asks for Alan’s permission to woo his mother but Alan (rightly) demurs. Despite this setback, Donncha is unabashed and decides to pursue Róise anyway with the attitude of fortune favouring the brave. Maidhchi (Ruadhán de Faoite) is a talented young hurler who yearns to be accepted among his peers but lacks the confidence to play on his local team. 

Cue the appearance of Frank, a thoroughly likeable mutt who comes into the lives of Róise and Maidchi. Initially, Róise is dismissive of Frank as he seems to follow her everywhere but gradually she begins to think that he is the reincarnation of her dead husband. As Frank starts to work his magic, Róise is transformed – her son is skeptical but lonely Maidchi supports Róise and believes in the wonders of Frank by adopting him as the local hurling team mascot. 

Donncha as the wicked, lecherous neighbour, looks and acts the part. Special mention should go to Ruadhán de Faoite, who is in his element as Maidhchí – the outsider coming into his own with the help of Frank. De Faoite’s comic timing is impeccable and he delivers with confidence. De Faoite is one to watch.   

Róise and Frank is a wonderful story of finding hope in the darkest of places and Frank is the sort of dog that every animal lover wishes they had as Robin to their Batman. Frank literally steals the show and upstages everyone. And I mean everyone. One of the most charming feelgood films I’ve watched in a while. 

Róise and Frank screened on 27th February 2022 at the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival.

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