Writer and director Alan Ball’s Uncle Frank carries a simple but evergreen message about character: you can be the person you desire to be, or the person everyone wants you to be. Set in the mid-70s, Paul Bettany stars as Frank, a college professor in Manhattan who travels with his 18-year-old niece Beth (Sophia Lillis) to Creekville, South Carolina, for his father’s funeral. Frank’s lover Walid or “Wally” (Peter Macdissi) tags along for this funny and often poignant portrayal of a man confident in the new world he created, coming out to his family while also coming to terms with his past pain and regrets. Wally left Saudi Arabia where his homosexuality could result in his beheading, the kind of overt violence that still exists, albeit more subtly, in the U.S. The film’s best moments are the thoughtful talks between Frank and Beth, and the light, bucolic scenes on the road with Wally, that highlight the ways that uncles (and aunts) can give that no-nonsense, unconditional support and advice that parents cannot. Cinematographer Khalid Mohtaseb captures beautiful shots of the countryside, which complement composer Nathan Barr’s (The Americans, Cabin Fever) beautiful score. Bettany’s stellar performance shows off his emotional range, while supporting actors Steve Zahn, Margo Martindale, Lois Smith, and Judy Greer add some delightful southern charm and humor. Stephen Root, in a surprisingly intense and emotional role, plays the terrifyingly overbearing family patriarch whose actions lead to the inciting incident of the film and whose death brings Frank back home.