‘Uncle Frank’: Film Review

One of the people who’s made long-form television drama arguably more interesting as a whole than its mainstream big-screen equivalent in recent years, Alan Ball has underlined his superior comfort with that format in the few theatrical features he’s made to date.

His screenplay for “American Beauty,” which Sam Mendes directed, was brilliant but glib; as writer-director of 2007’s “Towelhead,” he couldn’t quite make the complicated agenda of Alicia Erian’s novel gel in two-hour form.His first such enterprise since, the somewhat autobiographically inspired “Uncle Frank,” hits a more successful balance between ensemble seriocomedy, Big Issues and a somewhat pressure-cooked plot.

Set in the early ’70s, it casts the reliably deft Paul Bettany as a gay man forced to confront the Southern family to whom he’s stayed closeted — though they’ve managed to communicate tacit disapproval of his being “different” anyhow.

Well-cast and gracefully handled,

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