If I were to construct a list of some of the greatest actors in the industry, Michael Fassbender would be on it. He’s one of those actors that, if I see his name on a project, I’ll be there on opening day. When he commits to a role, he commits; even if the film itself isn’t that great. Earlier this year, he shined reprising his role of Magneto in “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” While he gives a great performance, it doesn’t compare to the emotion he gives in “Frank.”
“Frank” follows the story of Jon [Domhnall Gleeson], a struggling keyboardist/songwriter who takes up the opportunity of a lifetime. When their original keyboardist tries to drown himself, Soronprfb’s manager Don [Scoot McNairy] recruits Jon to join them. Soronprfb’s leader is Frank and well, how do you describe Frank? When you wear a giant papier-mâché head twenty-four-seven, questions will be raised. As Jon gets more and more accustomed to working with the band, the deeper he gets. Frank’s bandmate Clara [Maggie Gyllenhaal] remains suspicious, as she believes that Jon is dangerous to Frank. Over time, we get to piece together who Frank is and how he works.
When I say that there is no other film like “Frank,” I mean it. Categorizing this film into one specific genre is next to impossible. In just an hour-and-a-half, there was so much that they threw at me. So much so, that I promised myself that I was going to see it a second time before I wrote a review. Having seen it a second time from a different perspective, I feel that I have a better grasp on the themes and ideas of Frank. The first step to understanding the film, is understanding how it all began.
Through Domhnall Gleeson’s character, we are introduced to this strange new world. Jon could have easily been the window for the audience to peek through. Instead, he goes along with their wacky antics, patronizing them. He wants the world to know about them and he’ll push Frank to make that happen. Instead of being a face, Jon remains an outsider, even when he starts playing with the band. To say anymore, would be spoiling what comes next.
Then, we get to the best aspect of the film, Frank himself. From the moment he first appears on-screen, you’re not sure who this man is. Under that fake head is Michael Fassbender and he doesn’t need to facially express himself to get his point across. Frank is such a fascinating character because his personality is defined by his body language and his music. As Frank confides in Jon, it’s easy to see that he’s not good for him, as his mental capacity isn’t able to process the world around him.
Frank belongs with his original band, as Clara is shown doing everything to keep him safe. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a very unstable character that made me wonder if she was just as damaged as Frank himself. At first, Clara’s hatred for Jon seems unreasonable, but as the film progresses, it becomes abundantly clear. The most fascinating part of the film is when it seems that Jon has taken control and Frank is following along.
From this point on, there is no predicting where this story is going and that’s refreshing. The more time I spent with these characters, the more I felt like I was going insane. After listening to their harrowing music, you would too. It’s not the film’s fault as it’s supposed to be, it just got tiring for me after a while. But Frank isn’t about the music, but instead, the people who make the music and how it brings them altogether.
Frank is unpredictable as a character and a film. Director Lenny Abrahamson made a film where he showcases these odd events, all told through the eyes of the mentally ill themselves. When the film comes to a close, the quirky tone is gone and you are left with genuine emotion. The final five minutes consists of one of my favorite scenes from any film in 2014.
My advice for when you go see Frank, is this. Don’t expect anything more or anything less from Frank, let the film take you on this strange journey. Then and only then, will you appreciate what Lenny Abrahamson made.
Matt Bilodeau can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org