“Frailty” Mini-Review

Frailty (2001)

The story is told through a character who introduces himself as Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey). He tells an FBI agent (Powers Boothe) of his childhood – a family of three: father (Bill Paxton) and his two sons. Initially a happy family, things turn for the worse when the father begins to experience a series of religious visions, prompting him to commit a series of gruesome murders. As the father’s insanity escalates, his two sons are forced to confront their own sense of right and wrong. 

What is instantly evident is that ‘Frailty’s narrative and story flow are exemplary. Disturbing, shocking and totally thought-provoking, the film succeeds in inducing the atmosphere of tension, thrill and, finally, disbelief.  The film grows to become really disturbing, maybe largely because it involves young children, reminiscing the scenes from such truly horrifying films as ‘Sleepers’ (1996) and ‘The Girl Next Door’ (2007). 

The film is also very interesting psychologically-speaking in that it enables one to get a glimpse into a very interesting situation: the deterioration of a parent’s mental state and the impact it has on a child’s psychological state and his/her future actions. The influence of a parent’s ideology on a child’s construction of reality can be extremely great, and the film explores this theme in depth. In that way, ‘Frailty’ script is very interesting and the film tackles this emotionally difficult topic well. This is especially surprising given that the film is Bill Paxton’s directional debut. The cast seems perfect, and the acting is also good: Bill Paxton as dad Meiks impresses, as does Matt O’Leary in the role of young Felton, the older son.

Despite a critical acclaim from many directors, including James Cameron, and critics, for example, Roger Ebert (who gave the film four out of four stars), the film is not a perfection. Aside from its unrealistic story spin, the biggest flaw lies in the film’s ending. There is a twist in the film, but it is not as mind-blowing as one would expect from such a film. The ending leaves one if not totally frustrated, than at very least somewhat disappointed, especially given the sense that the plot story was well thought-out. It becomes a conundrum as to what was really going on in Brent Hanley’s (the writer) mind when he decided to leave the viewer with the ending that is that distasteful and unsatisfying. 

Overall, ‘Frailty’ is bound to keep one on the edge of one’s seat, at least during most of the film’s run, but whether that time spent will appear as worthwhile at the film’s ending as it did at its beginning is less certain. 7/10

6 thoughts on ““Frailty” Mini-Review

  1. “Frailty” is one of those guilty pleasure movies for me. The twist may not be “Sixth Sense” territory, as you point out, but I found it effective, and the last few minutes are wonderfully chilling. Bill Paxton did a fine job with the direction, along with playing the father.


  2. I remember being floored by that ending and somewhat upset when I saw it. Looking back, I do think that it is a good ending but I would rather them leave it open ended. Good review


  3. I appreciate your opinion on this film. I hold it in high esteem, I think Paxton should have had more big cinema opportunities based on the merit and success of Frailty.
    Likewise appreciate the ambiguity of the ending. How you feel about the ending depends on your perspective and your beliefs on faith and the supernatural. To me it is challenging the intellectual tendency to dismiss faith. It is asking the question, what if things aren’t what they seem to be? What if there is something more?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading. I remember I had no problem whatsoever with this film save for the ending. I probably should re-watch this film again – maybe I will like the ending more – or understand it better. I thought the marketing could also have been better – wiser – of this film. Paxton was talented, indeed.


Leave a Reply to dbmoviesblog Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.