From the opening score you know Frailty will be disturbing. And it is disturbing on many levels.
Present day, a man walks into the FBI with a confession of murders his father committed while he was young. The man and his brother were complicit in these murders but they were young and only following the direction of their father. In flash backs you come to know that the father had a religious vision and G-d told him there were demons on Earth and that he was chosen to destroy them. One son believes, the other does not. The story highlights the conflict between the brothers and their father but the viewer is placed in the judge’s chair to evaluate the validity of the father’s story vs. the actions he takes. This is the setup but there are some sledgehammer twists along the way.
There were some expected questions which are always asked in these types of films where visions from G-d cause people to become judge and executioner. At the core it pits faith against science and questions conventional value systems.
Acting is good. Bill Paxton gives a surprisingly believable performance as the father convinced he is on a murderous mission from G-d. However, Matt O’Leary, who plays the flashback version of the son who does not believe, is remarkable, capturing a boy struggling to resolve conflict way beyond his years and trying to protect his younger brother from his father’s actions.
The production and direction from Paxton is likewise good. While violent in nature, the viewer is left to draw on imagination to fill in the gruesome details because there is very little shown. Mostly the pace in film is slow, dramatically accentuating the twists, which come loudly without without warning.
Some friends hated Frailty because they felt it justified the father’s murderous actions. I disagree. From my perspective the film was simply trying to give a visual understanding of what might cause these types of visions and the power it could have over someone. I didn’t feel the film was condoning the father’s actions, rather just presenting. But I understand other’s concerns, it could, in the wrong hands, be interpreted as supporting evidence for irrational behavior.
In any case, Frailty is a good watch posing some interesting questions but approach with caution.