My Mother Frank begins as a warm, amiable comedy about a middle-aged Catholic woman (Frank, short for Francis, played by Sinead Cusack) who shakes herself out of the doldrums by enrolling as a student in her son's university. Most of her friends and family are horrified, not least her son (Matthew Newton), who is busy falling in love with his best mate's girlfriend (Rose Byrne). Meanwhile Frank has raised the ire of her disapproving English tutor (Sam Neill).Matthew Newton is utterly disarming as David; relaxed and natural in the role, even when the character's uptight. He generates valuable goodwill, steering the audience through some of the film's more awkward, broad comedy moments. Not long after the half-way point, first-time writer-director Mark Lamprell expertly steers his film into darker emotional territory and gives Cusack a real chance to shine.The supporting cast is full of familiar and welcome faces (Lynette Curran, Sacha Horler, Nicholas Bishop) and all the principals (including a more animated than usual Sam Neill) are excellent. While it meanders a little towards the end, My Mother Frank delivers more than it promises and is a genuine Australian crowd-pleaser.