Review – Frank
This review first appeared in BMA Magazine
The freak flag is hoisted high in Frank but there’s a cathartic method to the madness that makes Lenny Abrahamson’s film a charmer.
Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) is an aspiring songwriter who gets a break when he joins an experimental band led by a man who wears a papier-mâché head, Frank (Michael Fassbender).
Frank is loosely based on the persona of Frank Sidebottom (the alter-ego of comedian Chris Sievey) and the story is influenced by writer Jon Ronson’s experiences playing keyboards for Sidebottom’s Oh Blimey Big Band. On screenwriting duties Ronson and Peter Straughan stray from the biopic format and into something fictional.
Jon’s aspirations of commercial success are at odds with his bandmates’ desire to create something unique. Abrahamson comically explores the mad genius of the band recording ambient sounds or discussing the possibilities of making an entire album out of the sound of a door closing. The band is frequently pushed to breaking point but a strange emotional force keeps them together, which Jon misinterprets as the key to being the next big indie act. Fassbender slowly reveals Frank’s vulnerabilities and it aches with sadness – it’s another brilliant performance from Fassbender. In these moments, Abrahamson deftly morphs the tone from laughing at the kooky behaviour of the characters, to sympathising with the emotionally wounded characters and their coping mechanisms.
Frank is like a big group hug from the oddballs in your life.
The Popcorn Junkie