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NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by Fin.
The film opens up in voice over with Frankie reading a letter to his father and what appears to be household items being packed up for a move. We then see Frankie Morrison (played by Jack McElhone) carefully packing his most treasured belongings in a cardboard box, taping it shut and labelling it.
Frankie walks out with his box in hand and places it in the back of a white van. The family - Frankie, his mother Lizzie (Emily Mortimer) and his grandmother Nell (Mary Riggans) - are on the move.
The family arrives at their new flat and it is about this time that we learn that Frankie is a deaf mute. Frankie's mother sends him down to what appears to be a restaurant/market to get fish and chips (Grandma mimes for him to get her some cigarettes). Frankie goes down and orders the fish and chips (well, just chips for him) and motions for the cashier to get him some cigarettes. She refuses.
Frankie goes back upstairs, and the mother is furious because he wasn't sold the cigarettes and goes down to confront the cashier, Marie (Sharon Small) who makes a comment (I believe) about Frankie's intelligence to which Lizzie replies, "For a deaf boy?" and Marie replies, "No, for his age." The two become friends.
Next we see Lizzie taking Frankie to school, where he is seated by a boy named Ricky Monroe, who is constantly teasing him. During recess, Frankie makes friend in a little girl named Catriona, who knows sign language.
I may have gotten these next couple of scenes mixed up, but you'll still get the idea:
The scene cuts to Lizzie riding into the city to visit a stamp collector, who says that he's been saving a stamp for her. Next we see her in the library drafting a letter to Frankie in the guise of his father (important later) and putting the stamp into the envelope. She takes it to the post office where she mails it. We learn that for years, Lizzie has been writing like this to her son. So, Frankie is under the impression that his father is in the navy and serves on a ship called HMS Accra (important later).
And maybe a couple of days goes by and we see Lizzie collect the same letter for her son at her post office box.
We also see that Lizzie's mother goes through the newspaper announcements to see if Lizzie's husband is dead. It's there that she sees that he is looking for Lizzie and Frankie. We also learn that Davey Morrison was very abusive. Nell goes down to the pay phone and calls the number in the announcement and tells the woman that answers to leave the family alone.
One day at school, Frankie learns from Ricky Monroe that his the HMS Accra is heading north and will be in port the following weekend. Ricky places a bet with Frankie that his father won't even come see him. Frankie writes to his father about how excited he is about his visit. Lizzie, of course gets the letter and learns about the visit. She is a bit frantic. Later that evening, she goes to a local pub where she is mistaken for a prostitute. She ends up spending the entire evening on a park bench, until Marie and her boyfriend find her early the next morning. Its then that she confides her dilemma to Marie and how she wants to find a stranger to play Frankie's dad for one day.
Marie decides she going to help Lizzie and makes an appointment for her to meet a man at a local coffee house.
Next, we see Lizzie arriving at the coffee house where she sits and waits for the stranger who will play her son's father. The Stranger (Gerard Butler) arrives and Lizzie tells him a bit about Frankie and The Stranger decides that he (The Stranger) will go by the name Davey - since that is Frankie's father's name. Lizzie makes payment arrangements with him - half now, half later, and the deal is sealed for "Davey" to arrive at the flat in time to go to Frankie's football tryouts on Saturday.
During the course of the week, Lizzie finds out that her husband's sister has been looking for her, and she calls her. The sister tells Lizzie that Davey Morrison is dying and doesn't have much more time to live and wants to see Frankie. Lizzie refuses, but tells the sister that she will meet with Davey in the hospital.
Lizzie arrives at the hospital and when she refuses to allow her husband to see Frankie, this ticks him off and he starts yelling and screaming at her. Lizzie runs out of the hospital where the sister catches up to her. Lizzie tells her that she will not be bringing Frankie to him.
Saturday comes around, and The Stranger arrives and is unprepared for the amount of affection that Frankie gives him, but he accepts it. They go to Frankie's football tryouts and then to what appears to be a fish store, then to the restaurant for fish and chips and later some ice cream. You then see that Lizzie has been following and watching. The Stranger then takes Frankie to the Accra where they snap a photograph together and he also teaches him how to skip rocks.
It's now time for The Stranger to "relinquish" his parental rights and say good bye, but he begs Lizzie to give him one more day. Lizzie asks him who gave him the right to barge in and demand such a thing and he says, "you did". He gets one more day to spend with Frankie.
The following day, Lizzie and Frankie meet The Stranger at the Accra, as he is walking down the plank we see him slip the deckhand some money, to what is assumed to be payment for allowing him on board the ship.
The day is spend skipping rocks, and climbing a hill that overlooks the town. It is during this day that Lizzie explains to The Stranger that Frankie wasn't always deaf that his deafness was caused by his father's abuse.
Later, the three see Marie and her boyfriend at a dance and they are invited inside to join them. Lizzie and The Stranger share a dance.
After a long day, Frankie is carried into bed, The Stranger is allowed to say good bye and for the first time in the movie, Frankie speaks. Frankie gives The Stranger a paper mache seahorse that he had made. The Stranger accepts it with tears in his eyes. Lizzie escorts him to the door and they share a kiss. It is only when he is gone that Lizzie reaches into her jacket pocket and pull out the money for The Stranger's payment. He has returned it to her.
Lizzie asks Marie who The Stranger really was, and Marie answers with a half smile, "My brother.
Lizzie returns to the hospital where Davey is at with a picture that Frankie has drawn for him. However, when she arrives he appears to be in cardiac arrest and they are working on him. She gives the picture to a nurse with the promise that she will give it to him.
Lizzie then goes to the post office to pick up mail, sure that she won't have any to get, but she is handed a letter from Frankie to his father. Lizzie reads it on the bus and you once again hear Frankie's voice reading the letter. He says in his letter that his "real father died" and Lizzie breaks down realizing that Frankie knew that the man playing his father wasn't really his father. She then pulls a picture out of the envelope and it is a copy of the photo that The Stranger and Frankie had taken that day at the docks.
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