A movie about an eccentric experimental/pop band whose leader is a guy that wears a big goofy plastic head ALL the time? And the trailers were pretty funny. Frank looked promising indeed. And with a cast like Michael Fassbender, Domhall Gleason and Maggie Gyllenhall, and Scoot McNairy, what could go wrong? Not a Hell of a lot as it turns out.
Domhall Gleason plays Jon, an aspiring musician and songwriter that joins a band pretty much on a whim and soon realizes that he may be in over his head. At first most of the band come off as pretentious and snobbish, while the leader is Frank, the wearer of the big funny head, who is simply enigmatic, if not a bit weird.
You’d think as an aspiring musician, you’d want to think twice about joining a band on the spot while witnessing their current keyboard player trying to drown himself in the ocean, but not Jon, no sir, he’s just so excited to be a part of an existing band, he’ll take it! And this is the kind of funny Frank has to offer. It’s a bit absurd, but often laugh-out-loud, and directed by Lenny Abrahamson, an Irishman with a funny bone to match, which I often find promising.
There’s a lot of stuff in Frank about musicians, fame, creativity, loyalty, artistic integrity, and even a little about mental health. Some of the humor can go real dark, but Abrahamson has a way of not doing it in poor taste. Though, I suppose anyone too close to the material might see it differently, but you have to let creativity go where it goes. This is actually a really apropos idea in regards to this film, too.
As we watch Jon try to become one of the band, there’s a lot of funny stuff going on, and Frank’s behavior is odd at best. We are never really sure if Frank – who NEVER takes off the head – is a genius, or maybe a little nuts, or maybe pulling a grand prank. They keep you guessing – and laughing most of the time.
Frank is a funny film with feels. There’s a dramatic side to it that really opens it up in the third act. Jon keeps trying to bring his musical ideas to the table, only to have them reworked until they aren’t his own. His desire to be a success is natural, but Frank, though generally good-natured, seems easily side-tracked, once again adding to our inability to figure him out. The rest of the band reveres Frank as a genius without question, whereas Jon’s eagerness to put them on the map as a successful band seems to contradict Frank’s nature. This leads to potentially catastrophic events and the film takes its’ dramatic shift. Obviously I won’t spoil any of it here, but suffice to say that it is not without poignancy.
I really enjoyed Frank for all its’ humor and drama. This is a great little film. And as a side note, it is ever so slightly based on a real person, but really only the fact that there was a musician named Frank that wore a similar, big cartoony head. Very little else is similar. But it’s a fascinating story, and after you see the film Frank, you should do a search for Frank Sidebottom/Chris Sievey.
I think I could give Frank nearly four kittenhands. You don’t need to see it on the big screen, however, if you wanted to vote with your dollars in the theater, seeing this a worthy way to do it.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, now looking forward to Liam Neeson’s next film.