Reporter, Frank Johnston is sent undercover to write an expose on Dr. Arthur Apsey, a doctor who claims he can successfully turn gay men into straight men. A fierce psychological tug of war erupts between the doctor and h... more »is boyfriend over the heart and mind of Frank. -WINNER ? Best Feature Film, Special Interest at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, 2002 -Based on the stage play by Ken Hanes« less
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"With it's incredibly literate screenplay and its fine performances from its cast, Fixing Frank shows what can happen when egos, deceit, falsehood and one-upmanship can blindside a devoted and seemingly committed love relationship. Based on Ken Hanes off Broadway play, Fixing Frank deals with some provocative issues - the ethics of psychology, the origins of sexuality, and the quack science of conversion therapy.
The script abounds with a type of intellectual grandiosity, which is very rare in movies today. The film begins as freelance journalist Frank Johnston (Andrew Elvis Miller) is visiting psychologist Dr. Arthur Apsey (Dan Butler). Apsey claims that he can "cure" gay men of their same-sex desires and make them straight. Frank's psychotherapist partner Dr. Jonathan Baldwin (Paul Provenza) has seen the results of Apsey's work - he's worked with some of Apsey's patients - and is outraged at the damage that Apsey is doing.
Jonathan has asked Frank to go undercover to write and article about him and hopefully expose Apsey as the dangerous fraud that he is. The two lovers, however, have vastly underestimated Apsey's intellectual brilliance, and his penchant for twisting words and point of view to suit his own perverted agenda. He begins to attack Frank emotionally, gradually wearing him down, until the man begins to truly doubt himself.
Apsey eventually catches Frank in a series of lies and deceits, which leads to Frank "outing" himself as an investigative reporter, and stalling Baldwin's plan to file documented professional charges against Apsey. The two psychologists enter into a strange cat-and-mouse game using the poor Frank as a porn between them. As Frank becomes putty in Apsey's hands, he truly begins to question his sexuality whilst also questioning his marriage to his beloved Jonathan.
The stakes are high, as all three men must navigate the treacherous waters of deceit and dishonesty. Jonathan is wrong even foolish, not to mention unethical, in what he asks of Frank to expose Apsey, yet Frank is also imprudent to allow himself to be so manipulated by Apsey's methods whom Jonathan has nicknamed Frankenstein. Also, Jonathan has deeply underestimated his lover's capacity for truth and his lack of suitability for the job. But who in the end is more manipulative, the therapist or the lover?
Miller, Butler and Provenza are all perfect in their roles - indeed they are all actors I've never heard of and Miller's portrayal of this insecure writer torn between two strong men is especially supple and compassionate. But the film's ultimate strength is its bitterly astute screenplay, which just oozes provocativeness. Although some viewers may find it a bit overly talky, and sometimes the erudite and witty repartee is a bit too contrived for the screen, Michael Selditch's direction is always tight and competent.
Be warned - this is heavy material and subject matter is probably going to make a lot of people uncomfortable. The topical subject matter of "reverse therapy," the scientifically unproven - and much detested in the gay community - the method of transforming homosexual into heterosexual behavior, is indeed prickly. But the ultimate success of the film is that it addresses much deeper concerns, of loyalty and trust and commitment and how one gay couple's relationship is really tested to the max. Mike Leonard October 06. "
Tom O'Leary | Los Angeles, California | 11/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I found the first part of this movie difficult going because it is so obviously a filmed play. Talk, talk, talk. That's all. And more talking. However, by the end of the movie I became very invested in the characters and the story. If you enjoy language, this movie is for you. Also, the performances by Dan Butler and Andrew Elvis Miller are extraordinary. I could have watched them forever."
Finally... some intelligence.
X-Guilt | Ohio USA | 06/03/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This movie isn't for the intellectually or emotionally vacuous, or for anyone who finally wanted a chance to see Paul Provenza naked (which I did). Well written, expertly directed, and perfectly cast, this one gets your rocks off mentally - which can often be more satisfying than physically, and a refreshing change from the run-of-the-mill sex flicks. Dan Butler, an excellent though underrated actor, is wonderfully intense and a perfect choice to star in this movie. He comes off as smart, intuitive, glib and even sensual - i.e., sexy as hell. Finally I found a DVD I won't throw in the trash after one viewing... "
An Intense Psychological Study
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 01/27/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
An Intense Psychological Study
Amos Lassen and Cinema Pride
Based on the stage play of the same name, "Fixing Frank" (Here TV and Genius Entertainment) is one of those movies that is not easily forgotten. This is not your typical movie, there is not a great deal of action but there is a lot of talk. The exchanges between the characters are enlightening and they cause the viewer to examine himself. What at first appears to be quite funny is indeed very serious and provokes thought as well as self examination. Dan Butler of Frasier fame stars as psychologist Dr. Arthur Apsey who supposedly can convert gay men to straight. Frank Johnston (Andrew Elvis Miller) goes undercover to check out Apsey's reliability. Frank's lover, Jonathan (Paul Provesnsa) convinces him to find out what the doctor is all about. He poses as a gay man having an identity crisis and blatantly lies to the doctor (or so we are led to believe). We soon wonder if Frank really wants to be straight and is his lover using him as a pawn in the game. Does the doctor have his own agenda? What appears, it seems, is not what is and we are treated to a psychological game of cat and mouse---we suddenly realize that it is not only the actors who are involved, but the audience is as well. It seems that all of the characters engage in banter of some sort and the levels of truth are not easy to decipher. The film works towards a finale that holds nothing of what is expected and it is the mastery of the actors that make this drama so compelling. Important questions are raised here. We have a chance to look at gay men who are unhappy in who they are, who have great difficulty in accepting themselves. We also have those gays that choose to live lives that fit into the mainstream and attempt to be "good" homosexuals and we learn how the self loathing homosexuals survive in the world today. I must admit that after watching the film I was quite upset--not with myself but with those of our community who cannot admit who they are. If I were a drinker, I would have hit the bottle--the movie hit me that hard. It is not often that a movie can play with your mind but "Fixing Frank" does that. I hope that I am not misunderstood here. This is an important film especially by virtue of the fact that it is disturbing. How often do we go to the movies and walk away thinking about what we have seen? How often do those thoughts follow us to the point that we are literally shaken by them? This was something that used to happen with art films and it has been a long time since a film caused me to seriously think about who I am and why I am here. This is a sign of greatness. A movie that can affect the mind is an experience that we do not have a lot of. After the smoke clears along with our thoughts, we realize that we have been witness to an unusual experience. So far, by far, this is the most exciting movie I have seen this year and I cannot recommend it highly enough. "
A Solid, Provocative , Serious Film
Michael L. Wiersma | Springfield, MA United States | 10/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Perhaps it might be possible to review a film without revealing every detail and interjecting one's own interpretation of it.
This film chronicles the struggle between two opposing therapists who view each other as working at cross-purposes, to state it mildly. In order to "expose" the other, one therapist sends in his male lover to pose as someone interested in being converted to a heterosexual, but nothing goes as planned and the damage to everyone is considerable.
My expectations for this film were low, given the viewer ratings, but it is more interesting and more thought-provoking than most people probably give it credit for. It's not light, it's not funny, and it's primarily about gay people struggling with their beliefs and examining their relationships. The "villain," in this film is pretty sympathetic, perhaps more sympathetic than the "super-gay" man that is supposed to be saving everyone. Indeed, there is nobody here without a dark steak, and nobody here without some redeeming qualities.
I also appreciated the commentary/testimony that occurs occasionally during the film. It explains the characters' points of view and makes more sense as the film continues. The dialog in this film is fascinating overall and I found myself rewinding to hear the banter a second time.
I didn't like the squeaky and unsatisfying ending and I didn't find it believable or logical, but the rest is really quite intelligent and thoughtful. If you're in the mood for something more substantive than another frothy romantic comedy, then this might be intriguing."