The blog of Amon Warmann: Film journalist.

Film Review | Frank

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★★★★☆

As unique selling points for films go, it doesn’t get much more intriguing than the promise of Michael Fassbender in a papier-mâché head. Thankfully it proves to be an inspired piece of casting in Frank, the weird, funny and affecting fourth feature from Irish director Lenny Abrahamson.

Co-written by Jon Ronson – upon whose experiences with Frank Sidebottom the film is loosely based – Frank follows Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), an aspiring but struggling musician who happens upon an eccentric touring band as their keyboardist is trying to drown himself. That band’s unpronounceable name is The Soronprfbs, their lead singer is the fake head clad Frank (Fassbender), and once it’s ascertained that Jon can play the C, F and G chords, he is recruited.

There’s no denying Frank’s odd nature. Indeed, at one point Scoot McNairy’s band manager Don turns to Jon and asserts “You’re just going to have to go with it”. For those willing to do just that there is enjoyment to be found, much of which is derived from watching Gleeson’s Jon integrate himself into a dysfunctional band. In addition to Frank, other oddball members include Maggie Gyllenhaal’s volatile Clara and solemn guitarist Baraque (François Civil).

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Frank also works as an astute look into the difficulties of the creative process. The Soronprfbs sound is unique – Frank draws inspiration from everything and makes instruments out of everyday objects – but as their music starts to get popular the question of artistic license vs. commercial success rears its head. It’s a relevant topic in today’s world and the screenplay from Ronson and Peter Straughan examines it effectively.

It’s an impressive physical performance by Fassbender; full of humour as well as heart, he portrays Frank’s manic energy and troubled psyche, not to mention displaying a talent for singing (all of which was recorded live). The final scenes in particular are a knockout, quietly moving but also musically impressive. Indeed, the winning soundtrack is just one more reason Frank is a quirky pleasure not to be missed.

This review was originally published at This is Fake DIY

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3 responses

  1. Really want to see this! As if Fassbender in a huge papier-maché head wasn’t enough, I quite love Gleeson and Gyllenhaal.

    Like

    May 11, 2014 at 6:33 pm

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