Monday, June 16, 2014

FF Film Review: Frank (5/5)

It was an incredible privilege to visit Los Angeles during the 20th LA Film Festival June 11-19, and I would not have been able to attend if it weren't for my friend Miapatagonia. On Saturday night, she and I attended the screening of Frank in downtown LA, and I must honestly tell you that Frank was much better than I anticipated - as well as darker and funnier.  Frank is inspired by the career of Chris Sievey, the man behind the Frank Sidebottom mask, but it is NOT about his life. The ending credits was in memorial to him for establishing such a stage presence, but the character of Frank that Michael Fassbender brought to life was a different person than whom Chris was. First off, some initial critique of the film from moviegoers in the UK was that the music was too weird and the characters too strange. Well, those two ingredients to me made Frank an even more entertaining film.

Frank is the enigmatic lead singer of an alternative experimental band called the Soronprfbs. They use the noise and sounds from a wide variety of unusual and strange items to create the instrumental sounds for their music. Frank never takes his mask off and his band members accept this and find it to be normal. However, it is quite strange how some band members fall into their own depression and take extreme measures to disassociate themselves from the band. It is safe to say that everyone in Soronprfbs is a little weird, but they work well together as a band. A replacement keyboardist is needed and Domnhall Gleeson (Jon), a young man eager for his opportunity to be a part of a band, was in the right spot at the right time to be inducted into the Soronprfbs. Almost immediately he realizes that this band is strange, especially Frank, but he's committed to helping them as the new keyboardist and making this work. Only Frank finds Jon interesting and inspiring to the band, but the other band members, especially the fantastic Maggie Gyllenhaal (Clara), can't stand Jon. They think he's a talent-less interloper, but without his financial aid, they would not have been able to create their album.

Jon is savvy with social media, so while the band was making their album, he was updating the progress via tweets, and adding videos of the band rehearsing on Youtube. Jon believes that the band's music is so unique and Frank as a singer and front man being so quirky and strange with his mask head, he is convinced that if they attend the SXSW festival, they will receive the fame that the band and especially Frank deserves. But Jon doesn't realize that maybe the band preferred their obscurity, and not making "likable" music for the masses. With the mental stability of Frank in question, Jon may have set up the band to self destruct with this new direction he's pushing them to go in to. The film doesn't explain early on why Frank wears the mask, but there are quirks about him that gives the viewer enough information to understand that Frank is suffering from some sort of mental illness.

The film was a roller coaster ride of being very funny one moment, very dark and sad the next, and then hopeful and funny again. Needless to say, the SXSW gig did not turn out as planned and Frank's mental illness becomes full blown in a sad way. Eventually, Frank does find himself and as he sings 'I Love You All' at the end, it's really Frank being Frank and singing like he could have been doing all the long. Through dark tragedies comes a new life and everyone moving on again as it should be.

Michael, Lenny Abrahamson (director) and Domhnall Gleeson
The music in Frank is really good and I look forward to buying the soundtrack. Frank may not be everyone's cup of tea, especially those who don't like movies with songs that are not traditional and "likable", but Michael Fassbender, yet again, gives a brilliant performance. While Michael's face is hidden, you rely on the inflection of his voice, and the miming gestures of his body. His signing is very impressive and he is credible as the lead singer of an alternative band, he really got into the lead singer of a strange band vibe. Go see Frank with an open mind to what you are about to watch and I'm sure you'll love it as much I did. It's darker than I initially imagined, but considering the nature of the band and the people attached to it, that is their way of life and comfort zone.

I can't wait to see this again in August!

Grade: 5/5

Picture of the screen just before the viewing of Frank.


Stephanie Czekalski said...


I am glad that your vacation went well

Thank you for this detailed review of Frank.
I can't wait to see it.

Simone said...

Thank you Stephanie, I'm glad you enjoyed the review.

Vera said...

I too agree it was funny and sad at the same time. I went to see it with my friend, who still recalls some of the funny moments))) I enjoyed the music too. I think it added to the controversy of the character.

Hupsakeek said...

I can't wait to see Frank and now that I read your post it will be even harder to wait.
It's great to see a Fassbender film on a holidaytrip so you always have a special memory.
I hope that your Venice beach trip was great and that your came back with lots of energy :-)

Simone said...

thanks Marjan, my vacation was perfect. And yes, it is brilliant and perfect timing to experience another film festival, and see a Fassbender film while on holiday, with a Fassinator no less! :)