Frankie & Alice: Is the 2010 Movie Based on a Real Life Dancer?

‘Frankie & Alice’ is a drama film that revolves around Frankie Murdoch, a go-go dancer/stripper in Los Angeles. Though successful in her career, Frankie suffers from near-constant blackouts. After a night out with the other girls she works with, Frankie finally discovers the cause of her blackouts after nearly beating a man to death – she has dissociative identity disorder (DID) and blacks out whenever her alters take over her body.

Directed by Geoffrey Sax, the 2010 film stars Halley Berry in the lead role as Frankie Murdoch. Supporting her are Stellan Skarsgård, Phylicia Rashad, and Chandra Wilson. The film’s depiction of DID, also known as multiple personality disorder, is quite authentic. So much so that the viewers might wonder whether there is a real-life connection to the story or not.

Frankie & Alice: A True Tale of Struggle Against DID

‘Frankie & Alice’ is based on the life of the real Francine “Frankie” Murdoch, who was diagnosed with DID. The film depicts Francine’s life fairly accurately from the moment of her diagnosis till the time she came to fully accept and adapt to her condition. Dissociative Identity Disorder falls under Dissociative Disorders and entails the existence of two or more distinct personalities in an individual. People with DID can shift between their personalities at any time involuntarily; this may cause memory loss and a drastic change in behavior.

While mental disorders are often covered in both film and television, DID is not a topic that has been picked all that much. This might be in part due to the complexity of the condition itself. When asked about why she chose to pick this particular story to produce a film on in an interview with Variety, the actress said, “Right away I thought this is a good chance to put some light on this dark subject and show the other side of mental illness, and what people really struggle with and have people have some empathy and compassion for this…”

Depicting one character on screen is not an easy task. Depicting three different characters at the same time would be even more daunting, then. But Halle Berry takes on the challenge with such nuance that it’s easy to forget that she’s acting at all. “…As an actor to play three characters in one was, of course, you know, just…you just wanted to, like, chew that up because that’s so rich! We don’t, I don’t come across parts like that very often,” Halle Berry continued.

‘Frankie & Alice’ doesn’t only present the struggles of those with Dissociative Identity Disorder – it also shows what the families of these people go through, especially in situations where the condition remains undiagnosed for years on end sometimes. In an interview with Shock Ya!, Chandra Wilson, who portrays Frankie’s younger sister, Maxine, discussed the same. “This movie extenuates the dynamic that can happen in the home for years before family members realize something deeper is at the core of what can be considered bad behavior.”

She added, “It allows you to give people the benefit of the doubt, as opposed to just writing them off. There could really be a health issue that’s affecting their behavior.” ‘Frankie & Alice’ also delves into the issues of racism and discrimination, which are part of Frankie’s childhood trauma. A true story, the film gives the viewers an accurate glimpse into the life of somebody with Dissociative Identity Disorder from both a clinical and personal perspective.

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