Christopher Walken received his second Oscar nomination for portraying Frank Abganale Sr. in Catch Me If You Can.
Christopher Walken portrays the father of the con man Frank who begins the film as a seemingly successful businessman who loves his son, and his wife. Christopher Walken here plays what is strangely a somewhat rare character in films which is a genuinely loving father character. Walken takes the role and makes the absolute most of Frank Abganale Sr making him a pivotal aspect of the film really because of his performance.
Walken creates a sympathetic portrait of this somewhat simple man who just wants the best for his family, but is unable to give it to them because the IRS are constantly hounding him for something that was not his fault. Walken has some small but very strong moments early on. Walken fully realizes his love for his son and his wife, which he shows especially well in his scene where he reflects on how he came to marry got her, showing what he feels is an honest accomplishment he felt he made.
After his troubles with the IRS though Frank falls onto difficult times in both his finances as well as with his wife. Walken is very effective in showing that Frank is always an optimistic man even in the face of some serious problems. Walken portray very well and very carefully that it is not Frank being unrealistic, but rather a man who insists on always keeping going no matter what is against him.
Walken makes this portrait of Frank an especially tragic one because he never becomes mean or angry over his troubles but instead always stays a good person throughout his troubles. He is particularly heartbreaking for example in the scene with Frank Jr. is being forced to choose a parent to live with. It is a depressing and difficult situation but Walken still shows Frank genuinely trying to keep it together, even though Walken portray an effort here showing that Frank is actually devastated by the divorce.
After this scene the film focuses on DiCaprio various exploits as a conman which are really larger than life, but Walken comes in a few times in what I think are the best scenes of the film. Frank Sr. acts as basically a beacon of reality to Frank Jr. who is leading such an abnormal lifestyle. They meet twice while he is performing various escapades, and these two meetings are phenomenal moments because of Christopher Walken's performance.
The first time they meet Walken still an optimistic but sad Frank Sr. Walken shows Frank truly wants to still get back with his wife and son just so they can be a family. Frank Jr. does not elaborate his exploits only saying that he is a pilot. Walken is great because he creates a genuine joy and pride in Frank over his sons supposed accomplishments. Walken makes it a bittersweet pride because despite his son's apparent success, he must always remind his son that his financial problems, and problems with his wife are still there.
Later in the film they meet again after Frank has found out what his son really has been up to, as well as for himself is on even harder time. Walken is completely heartbreaking in this scene as he tells his son very sadly that it can never be the way it was for them. Walken though still shows that he still loves his son, and even a still a pride in his son. In the end though Walken ends on a somber note that perfectly played showing the reality Frank Sr. faces completely brought to life by Walken that is complete contradiction to basically the fantasy being lived by Frank Jr.
There is not a single moment of this performance that I do not like, and find very effecting. I particularly love his single scene with Tom Hanks as the FBI agent chasing Frank Jr, where he shows his absolute loyalty and love for his son not matter what. This is one performance that I always remember long after watching the film, and for me is the most memorable part of the film as whole. Walken simply gives a pitch perfect performance that makes a truly unforgettable tragic figure because of his complete honesty in his portrayal.