Reviewed Frank in nearly real time this week on the Film Vault. Came directly from the screening, perched myself in front of a mic across from my shiney headed co-host and attempted to explain what I had just witnessed. This is not the first time that our schedule has dictated such a short turn around and in most cases it’s not much of an issue. Frank turns out not to be most cases and trying to speak about this haunting film before it had a chance to churn about my troubled mind was a mistake. I butchered it, didn’t give this subtle, thought provoking and quite possibly most mindful film of 2014 thus far, a fair shake. I’ll now attempt to do that here.
This link should be played as you read to give the proper tone. http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/87806637.html.
Frank is one of those rare gems that creeps up on you long after the last credit rolls by and leaves you wanting more in the best possible sense. While it’s doubtful that Frank will ever find much of an audience, here’s to hoping that this little redeux of a botched review will help it find a few individuals who might otherwise miss it.
Told through the guise of a young, would be songwriter, played by the ever nonthreatening About Time‘s Domhnall Gleeson, FRANK offers us a glimpse into the world of a modern day indie band and the creative process that comes with it. We learn that frustration, starvation and more than a touch of self mutilation goes into recording an “important” album. Tedium is explored to it’s outer edge and borders on fault while blood, sweat, death and tears become evident ingredients of the “creative” process along with heavy beard growing and healthy doses of bitchy attitudes.
Thanks to happenstance and some dumb luck, Gleeson becomes a member of the ultra eccentric band, Soronprfbs. You’re not supposed to be able to pronounce it. Only the cool kids know how (incidentally, I don’t know how), but as it turns out, nobody knows how it’s pronounced, including the actual band. This is a whole new level of hipster band, but stick with it as the end product is worth it. The band is lead by a two headed monster in Maggie Gyllenhaal as the angry purist and Michael Fassbender as the misunderstood frontman. Here’s where the movie/story as a whole earns it’s worth.
If you’ve heard anything about Frank it’s that it’s weird, and that Michael Fassbender wears a paper mache head throughout most all if not all of the film. Both tidbits are true, however, it’s the fact that this actor would have the temerity, the balls, the gaul to take such a role that gets me smiling. Hollywood is currently offering this impossibly handsome actor anything and everything. Leading man, action hero, empathetic and award bait roles, but he chooses to bask in the shaded coverall of a paper mache mask for most, if not all of a film. Sure, he’s the lead and the center of the unpronounceable Soronprfbs, but not since Dustin Hoffman opted for the role of Ratso Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy rather than a Hollywood hunk, has an actor with so much promise gone against the zeitgeist grain.
Truth is stranger than fiction hasn’t been more on point than with Frank. Where, how and why came to mind multiple times while viewing this as far as the giant head was concerned. After a bit of research one learns that director Lenny Abrahamson and co-writers Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan weren’t creating with thin air. Some of what we see is based on the fictitious Frank Sidebottom created by late UK comedian and musician, Chris Sievey. Nonethless, Frank is an original work with incredible performances, most noticeably if not obviously, Michael Fassbender, whose domineering physique and baritone vocals transcend the mask.
Fuck I hope people see this and appreciate it. It should be noted that profanity is not used on this site unless necessary for means of emphasis. Beyond the quirk that is the giant paper mache head is that message that was mentioned before, but not until the end of the film. Without ruining a major plot point or making the experience of viewing Frank lesser, let me say that mental illness, drugs and dread are not necessarily needed for brilliance.
4 0f 5 (I love it, but it’s not for everyone. But if you’ve read this far and enjoyed the “I Love You All” song, this might be your 5 star of the year.)
Must Watch = 5 0f 5 (See it in the theater if possible/buy it or pay for rental)
Should Watch = 4 of 5 (Worth a theater visit or sending away for)
Could Watch = 3 of 5 (If it’s on a pay channel or streaming for free)
Should Not Watch = 2 of 5 (Only if friends or family insist)
Do Not Watch = 1 of 5 (Don’t allow friends or family to make this mistake)