Starring: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy, François Civil, Carla Azar
Directed By: Lenny Abrahamson
Written By: Jon Ronson, Peter Straughan
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 35 min
It’s a comedy, it’s a drama, a ‘dramedy’ as they say. An odd story about delusions of grandeur and accepting mediocrity. A film about a quirky band called Soronprfbs (don’t ask me to pronounce that), and their paper mache head wearing leader, Frank. A story about how a new keyboard player called Jon, nearly destroys their creative and therapeutic little world, when his social media fueled sense of popularity steers the group in a direction it’s not ready for, causing tension and anxiety.
But if you’ll allow me to be blunt just this one time; Frank is weird. There, I said it, and I know, I’m hardly setting the amateur blogger’s world ablaze with my detailed and thoughtful analysis of this movie. But f’it, the experience of watching this film wasn’t entirely pleasant. It was weird.
It opens well enough as we’re introduced to Jon, a young man struggling to reconcile his creative dreams with his completely talent-less existence. The film’s opening moments as he wanders around town trying to draw inspiration from every day objects and people, was fun. Especially when his latest moment of inspiration turns out to be, It Must Be Love, by Madness. But then we’re introduced to the band Soronprfbs, as their keyboard player tries to commit suicide. We meet ‘the head’, Frank, and a psychotic Thermin* player called Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal). We’re introduced to a mostly mute drummer called Nana (Carla Azar), a really French** guitar player called Baraque (François Civil) and the bands formerly institutionalized manager, Don (Scoot McNairy) .
With this eclectic mix of characters, you’d think writers Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan would have no trouble finding the humor in this story. But while there are the odd hilarious moments, nearly every one of them has a niggling sense of tragedy surrounding it. Sure Clara’s ‘Crocodile Dundee-esk’ accurate log throwing knocks Don out as he runs naked towards a nearby lake. But he was, like the keyboard player in the first act, trying to end his life. Frank wears a funny looking paper mache head, but it’s due to some serious mental problems. So while this stage seems set for some great humor and drama, the two never seem to coalesce (for me at least) in an entertaining way. And that’s despite great performances from Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson.
** French stereotypes: Rude, unfriendly and arrogant.***
*** Note: Not something I believe!
Despite what I thought of the film, it has been generally very well received. If you’re into your quirky challenging films, then you may really enjoy this. The movie is rated R for language and some sexual content.
This movie will be serviced well enough as a regular rental or streaming show on your TV, laptop, tablet or phone.
I did like Michael Fassbender’s and Domhnall Gleeson’s performances in Frank.