Before going into full detail, I think everyone needs to check out whatever soundtrack there is for this movie. The movie is filled with great songs and in the finale the film features a song called “I Love you All” and it sparks one of the best scenes of the year for film. I really hope they can campaign that song for the Academy Award because that would be awesome to see. Here’s a link to the song, I highly recommend it:
Frank tells the story of an experimental band that is run by a crazed song writing genius named Frank (Michael Fassbender) who wears a paper Mache mask. The band loses its pianist and by coincidence hires young, independent songwriter Jon (Domnhall Gleeson). The movie mostly shows Jon’s evolution with the band from there studio to their performance at SXSW.
The movie uses a very stereotypical format for its story of the evolution of the band. There is the breakup of the band. Some of the people of the band start to care about themselves than about the music. And ultimately, the band gets back together again through the power of a song. The films storyline is one we have seen time and time again in all band movies. Besides that, the film manages to bring up a slew of other conveniences that we have seen before. I would even go as far as to call the main character Jon a wet blanket on the movie but I think that the great performances, cool soundtrack and strange interest of the dialogue made this something that was quite original.
As Frank, Michael Fassbender gives one of his best performances to date. We only see his face for ten minutes of screen time give or take but he is energetic and wild before then. Fassbender adds large amounts of tragedy and hilarity to the character in a way that really makes it his own. It is one of the most memorable performances of the year so far. Frank himself is a worthy and touchingly created main character. He is loopy and weird but you get this sense that there is something much more to him psychologically both negatively and positively. He is a character with a performance that is worthy of a movie.
I enjoyed Maggie Gyllenhaal as Frank’ sidekick Clara. She is very domineering and hateful to Jon throughout the film. I think she works for the role that she has to play. Scott McNairy is the bands manager and is the nicest person to Jon. He is one of the more grounded people of the movie while stilling playing to the strangeness of the movie; I think I would’ve actually liked it better if he was the main character.
Speaking of which, I think Jon is the weakest aspect of the film by far. First of all, Domhnall Gleeson isn’t that bad in the movie. He is fine as to playing to the character that the movie writes and he even added moments of dimension and sympathy. What I hated about the character is how obvious it felt that they were using him as a way to keep the movie grounded. The rest of the people featured have really cools quirks so the writer compensates by making the lead as flat and inside the box as they can. He never seems to learn anything and there isn’t a point where he really seems to do anything that is nicer or more memorable than what any other character is doing. He isn’t terrible at anything, he is simply ok. Domhnall plays Jon with a lot of subtlety which makes him extremely normal. The fact that our main character holds this trait really does an injustice to the story being told. If the movie wanted to take that route they should’ve picked a more intense actor (no offense to Gleeson) or presented us with a character that still managed to be interesting despite being a clear plot device. Frank feels like The Big Lebowski if the main character wasn’t The Dude and instead was an average and forgettable young adult character that seemed to avoid the weird things happening around him. He just feels like such a roadblock to this movie.
I did find the dialogue to be very funny at times. It builds many of the characters and manages to be dark, funny and touching at the same time. The movie for me is about creativity beyond everything else. The movie tries to go into the mind of a group of artists trying to explore the deepest depths of their mind and the troubles they face in attempting to do so. You can become too controlling, you can have a lack of focus or you can simply not have what it takes. I really enjoyed what this film did in attempting to figure out what really leads artists to do the work that they create.
Frank is a fairly decent movie. Its main character is weak and it drags a little near the end but all comes back around to having good music, good performances and charming and interesting themes and dialogue. I would give this a shot when it comes out to theaters or at least when it comes out to on demand.
Review by: Ryan M.
Release Date: 4/4/2014
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Scoot McNairy
Directed by: Leonard Abrahamson
Screenplay by: Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan