Review for Frank
When fate gets gifts Jon, an aspiring songwriter with a lucky break he finds himself joining an avant-garde band The Soronprfbs. This band is led by Frank and he finds himself immediately out of his depth. Frank is a mysterious person who hides his head in a large papier mache head. Other band member Clara is an even more mystifying character and who terrifies Jon.
What follows next is Jon trying to figure out what is going on with the band, with Frank and with himself. Going to a secluded shack to record the album, Jon must also decide what he is doing with his real job and this leads them to an American gig that could make or break them not just as a band, but as people.
This film is so warm and wonderful that it is a shame that it didn't get the acclaim and success that it truly deserves. Though the film was critically praised and at least made its budget back, it was not the success that I would have thought. There are a few reasons why this probably was and one of the main ones is that the film is maybe a little too odd for its own good.
At times the mixture of montages, the crazy band antics and playing weird instruments jar somewhat with the really depressing moments. These moments bring the humour to a screeching halt and it takes a while for it to gain that momentum back. By the end you do wonder what the filmmakers were trying to say though as it drifts between a This is Spinal Tap rock band film and just a generic rags to ... well... rags story.
One thing that I really must address is Michael Fassbender as Frank. I am really two minds about the performance. The use of an American accent just doesn't seem right instead of the squeaky voice that the real Frank Sidebottom was known for. It just seems bizarre that he would use this American accent and I can only assume it was to try and make it more appealing to the American audience. It is probably best that you don't know anything about the original character at all.
The fact that we never see Fassbender's face is amazing, especially when you consider the number of major films he has appeared in and his Oscar nomination for 12 Years a Slave.However, his performance is magnetic and much like the character in the film, you can understand why people follow him. Whether he is on stage, running around, or simply sitting, the expression and emotion that he can generate from a one-expression face is astounding.
Domhnall Gleeson as Jon is perfect as our eyes into this world. His innocence and confusion at what is going on is exactly what the audience needs. His questions are the questions we want to ask and when he gets the answers it brings even more questions, which is exactly how it should be. Maggie Gyllenhaal as Clara brings her whiny persona to life and makes me want to hate her in this Yoko Ono-esque character.
Two commentaries are wonderful if a little excessive. The first features Director Lenny Abrahamson, Composer Stephen Rennicks and Actor Gleeson is fine and shares some great stories about the creation of the film. The second features the two writers Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan. Ronson had been part of the real Frank Sidebottom's band and had some interesting stories about that and the two clearly had fun working on the story as a piece of non-fiction and fiction.
A Behind the Scenes featurette about the making of the film is nice and it does interview most of the key people and it does explain what the film is supposed to be and what they were hoping to do. This is nice and supported well by the little featurette on the Sound of the film and really the creation of the music is just fascinating and could have been a whole documentary in itself.
Ten minutes of Deleted Scenes are fine, but as with many it doesn't give you any idea about where they are supposed to go or why they were cut, other than for time. If they had reinserted any of the footage back into the film it would not have hurt it in the slightest. Finally, there is a Trailer which at least highlight all the best moments in the film including Frank's 'most likeable song ever' which I do wish they had made more of in the film.
Frank is a bizarre film, but one that should be experienced. Do not be expecting the wacky nonsense of the actual Frank Sidebottom character, instead just expect a bizarre rock biopic mixed in with a black comedy about finding yourself. If you can cope with that, then Frank will certainly be the film for you.