May I Be Frank:
A Film About Sex, Drugs, & Transformation
Directed, Produced, and Filmed
by Cary Mosier, Ryland Engelhart, and Conor Gaffney
Cinema Libre Studio, 2013
Double DVD @29.95
Frank Ferrante was not the type of person anyone would have wanted as a husband or father. The 54-year-old Brooklyn-born Sicilian was addicted to drugs and alcohol. His medicine cabinet was filled with numerous prescription drugs, and he was estranged from his family and constantly exhausted and depressed.
Ferrante's life changed when he befriended three young men in their twenties while dining at San Francisco's Café Gratitude. After numerous visits, one of his servers, Ryland Engelhart, asked him, "What's one thing you want to do before you die?"
"I want to fall in love one more time, but no one will love me looking the way I do," Ferrante told Engelhart.
Motivated by his desire to help Ferrante, Engelhart enlisted the help of Cary Mosier and Conor Gaffney, all employees of the restaurant, to help transform Ferrante's life. They persuaded Ferrante to put his life in their hands for 42 days, and they would be his coaches physically, spiritually, and emotionally. The process meant that he agreed to eat only raw food, practice gratitude, have a colonic every week, and visit a holistic health practitioner.
During the film, viewers joined Ferrante on his roller coaster ride through those challenging 42 days. They experienced his ups and downs as he struggled to stabilize his life. May I Be Frank is not a weight-loss film or one advocating a raw food diet to cure physical ailments. The three filmmakers admit that not only was Ferrante's life changed, but they also experienced remarkable transformations in their own lives.
What makes the film so endearing is how easy it is for the viewer to identify with Frank. True, he's a brash Sicilian who sounds like a Brooklyn tough guy, but beneath the exterior crust is a sensitive individual who recognizes his failings and wants to reestablish close relationships with his two children and his ex-wife. Ferrante has many funny moments that elicit quite a few laughs. Yet, viewers will empathize with him when he reveals all of the ways he has made such a mess of his life.
Ferrante is not afraid to bare everything in his life including his soul and even his body. In one scene that might give this film an R rating he drops his hospital gown on the way to the bathroom to reveal his bulbous, unattractive, bare body.
May I Be Frank is a documentary that does not champion any cause or espouse any view. It is a warm, human story that shows transformation is possible. It's hard work and not easy to achieve. It's like swallowing the unpleasant-tasting wheat grass juice that Ferrante takes daily during those 42 days. He hates it, but he knows he has to get it down to achieve his goal.
In the end Ferrante does fall in love again, but first he learns to love himself.
Anyone purchasing the DVD should definitely opt for the 2-disc set that contains the interviews with the filmmakers and Ferrante. These personal discussions add so much to the film experience.