Billy Luther’s 2023 Netflix film, Frybread Face and Me, chronicled the story of two cousins, Benny (Keir Tallman) and Fry (Charley Hogan), who were sent to their grandmother’s (Sarah H. Natani) house over on the Navajo Reservation. Benny didn’t take the news well, as he was planning to go to a Fleetwood Mac concert. He had been saving up for it for months as well. However, his parents were in no mood to listen to Benny’s rant and made it very clear that he was going to spend his summer at his grandmother’s house. Even though Benny hated it, he had no choice but to agree. With tears in his eyes, Benny took a bus to California, from where his aunt Lucy dropped him off on his grandma’s ranch.
Lucy was Benny’s mother’s youngest sister, who dropped out of school to sell custom-made pieces of jewelry. However, Lucy’s business didn’t bloom like she had expected, bringing in only enough to get by. Lucy was also planning to go to Phoenix to attend a beauty school and open her own beauty salon. As for Benny’s grandmother, she only communicated in her native language, Navajo, and always spoke to others as if they understood her. English was something she greatly despised, and maybe this was why she refused to learn it, let alone speak it. If you’d asked her, she would’ve told you that Navajo was the only language she needed. Benny’s uncle, Marvin (Martin Sensmeier), didn’t take kindly to his sudden arrival and often picked on Benny for playing with action figures and growing out his hair like a woman.
Why Did Fry’s Mother Often Drop Her Off On The Ranch?
Even though Benny and Fry were siblings, they couldn’t be any different. Fry was Benny’s cousin, who, unlike him, spent most of her time on their grandmother’s ranch. Like Marvin, Fry also, at first, didn’t really appreciate Benny just showing up out of the blue. Fry often asked her grandmother when Benny was leaving. Unlike her brother, Fry could speak both Navajo and English and was also proud of her Indian lineage. Fry had earned a moniker in the family and was known as Frybread Face. This was mostly because her face was flat and greasy, Fry stated. However, the family also admired her talents for herding sheep, probably better than anyone else on her grandmother’s farm.
Fry’s mother often dropped her off on the ranch without informing anyone beforehand. Their grandmother said this was because she was unhappy with her own life. She rarely even bothered to greet her own mother. Since Fry practically grew up on the farm, she was quite handy. She knew how to herd sheep, hook and repair generators, and various other things. Like Marvin, Fry also picked on Benny, knowing he wanted to go back to San Diego but couldn’t because of his parents. Benny was shy, whereas his cousin was a loudmouth who never failed to come up with a cheeky comeback. However, as time passed, the cousins developed a special bond. They herded sheep together, built fences to keep those sheep inside, and cooked breakfasts, among other things.
Why Did Marvin Lash Out At The Siblings?
Throughout Frybread Face and Me, Benny calls his family dysfunctional, and halfway through the movie, we start to see why. Everyone in the family had a story to tell, and mostly, they were sad and tragic. None of their lives were perfect, and the reality of their situation left them upset and heartbroken. However, in between the lines, the siblings had managed to keep themselves afloat. Others, like Marvin, were less adept at hiding their feelings and emotions. Marvin was the ranch cowboy who often tried his luck on the rodeo circuit. His older brother, Victor, was both the state and national champion.
Marvin wanted to be like him more than anything, but for the spectators, he was just another failed and struggling athlete to ridicule. One fateful day, Marvin fell off the bull and was badly injured. This left him both irritated and annoyed, and one day, he lashed out at the siblings. At that point, Marvin wasn’t angry with them; he was angry with himself. As Fry has stated in many instances, Marvin does not live in “Hozho,” a term translated into harmony in English. At one instance, Marvin threw away Benny’s cowboy hat, saying there was no point in keeping it as he wasn’t a cowboy. Marvin further told Benny that his parents sent him here to turn him into a man since they were fed up with him dressing up and looking like a girl.
This wasn’t correct, as the real reason Benny’s parents sent him there was because they were getting divorced. Fry’s life was also not all rainbows and sunshine. Fry’s father was in jail for robbing people, and her mother hardly spent time with her. As you’d noticed, Fry always carried a weird doll whose face didn’t match with the rest of the body. This was the last gift Fry’s mother gave her before she turned cold and heartless, thus explaining why Fry never let it leave her sight. Uncle Roger (Jeremiah Bitsui) and Aunt Sharon (Nasheen Sleuth) were also always unsettled, and it seemed like they couldn’t get through a day without disagreeing with Fry. They’d get upset whenever they lost one of the sheep and take it out on the siblings. However, Lucy was different, and despite having her own share of problems, she always carried herself with pride.
What Did Benny Take Away From His Summer Experience?
As Frybread Face and Me neared its end, summer ended, and Ann (Morningstar Angeline) arrived at the ranch to get her son, Benny, but to her shock, he didn’t want to go. She couldn’t believe this, as Benny was the same boy who said she was ruining his life by sending him to his grandmother’s ranch. Since Ann had work the next morning, they couldn’t stay and left in a couple of hours. Benny didn’t return empty-handed; he took with him many lessons he wouldn’t have learned elsewhere. Benny learned that no matter how dysfunctional his family was, they were all he had. He acknowledged that that family, imperfect as it may be, was all they had for support, love, and strength. He also learned that no matter how rough life gets and how much trouble you are in, you should never lose strength and clarity. This equilibrium of strength and clarity would bring both balance and beauty to their lives, as told by Benny’s grandmother. Unfortunately, this was the last time Benny met his grandmother and Uncle Marvin. Benny’s grandmother died soon after, completing her rug, something she wanted to be her legacy. Sadly, before she died, she went blind and couldn’t weave anymore. Frybread also had a couple of life lessons for Benny. She told him never to forget where he came from and to always say the name of his clan out loud, with pride and power.