When we meet Frankie "Starlight," (Corbin Walker) he has become, suddenly, an acclaimed writer, and the center of Ireland’s literary circle. In frequently interrupted flashbacks viewers become acquainted with the memoirs in his best-selling book. Much of this story, his story, is about Bernadette (Anne Parillaud), Frankie’s remarkable mother, her life prior to his birth, and the life that they would share until her death.

Bernadette’s story begins in France in the days before the D-Day invasion. She and her family live on the Normandy coast of occupied France where they suffer wartime abuses and atrocities imposed by Nazi soldiers. Just prior to D-Day, Bernadette and her teen-age friends discover an unusual metal object on the dunes. When the object explodes, only Bernadette survives. Shortly thereafter, and minutes before the D-Day attack, her father is brutally executed by the soldiers with all villagers, including Bernadette, bearing witness. Not surprisingly, these two traumatic events leave her damaged and scarred.

Bernadette escapes to Ireland on an American troop ship where she becomes pregnant with Frankie. The remainder of the story concerns her loving and supportive relationship with her child, a dwarf. Other characters include two of Bernadette’s lovers sensitively played by Gabriel Byrne and, later, Matt Dillon. Their relationships with her and her young son bring bizarre twists to an already unusual story. Set in France, Ireland, Texas, and back to Ireland.


Frankie Starlight is an exquisite story about life from the perspective of an unforgettable character. Bernadette’s complete willingness to provide love, schooling, and friendship for her child allows for a portrayal of difference without any of the stereotypic baggage. Frankie, the character, and the actor who portrays him, provide viewers with an exhilarating story of honesty and affection. Bernadette’s character, however damaged and fragile, gives Frankie extraordinary strengths and insights. Ultimately, the story of Frankie Starlight is about the power of love as told by a figure who might have been discarded and relegated to the margins of society. From him, we discover much about him and ourselves as well.

Frankie Starlight slipped by most theatres and remains fairly unknown. In a unit on disability entitled Tyranny of the Normal designed for fourth year medical students, this film is rated superior by all participants. Other films in the unit include The Waterdance, The Eighth Day, and Passion Fish ((see this database),

Primary Source

New Line Home Cinema, A Turner Company