They make a lot of movies, but they don't make a lot of movies like "Frank." And, to my knowledge, they don't make any movies where they put an Oscar-nominated actor in a giant fake head for nearly the whole film.
They make a lot of movies, but they don’t make a lot of movies like “Frank.” And, to my knowledge, they don’t make any movies where they put an Oscar-nominated actor in a giant fake head for nearly the whole film.
The buzz around the bizarre comedy lies in Michael Fassbender’s hilarious (and eventually heartbreaking) performance as the fake-headed title character, but the whole movie is warm, funny and original. Oddballs, this is the oddball movie of the year.
Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) is an aspiring musician who finds a unique opportunity to join a mysterious up-and-coming band when its keyboardist tries to drown himself. This may have been Jon’s first sign that he was in for a weird ride.
Said band is fronted by Frank (Fassbender), an enigmatic singer-songwriter who never removes the giant fake head he wears for reasons unknown. “You’re just gonna have to go with it,” the band’s manager tells Jon (and, indirectly, the audience).
Jon documents the recording of the band’s album at a remote getaway. He has a contentious relationship with his abrasive bandmate Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal in a hilariously droll turn). The band becomes a social media sensation before most anyone has heard its music.
Director Leonard Abrahamson works from the delightful script by Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan to create a movie so quirky, yet so warm. Wes Anderson fans should especially take note.
“Frank” takes the tortured artist trope to ridiculous extremes. Jon wants to immerse himself in this chaos to make himself write better songs. “I have found my abusive childhood,” he writes (on Twitter). “My mental hospital.”
Indie rock is lovingly sent up, particularly the buzzmaking business of social media and SXSW showcases. It’s sharp, and it’s hilarious.
Fassbender lends some pathos, but he’s also terribly funny whilst acting behind a mask. “Would it help if I said my facial expressions out loud” he asks. Gleeson is becoming one of my favorite “Harry Potter” alumni (he was a Weasley), and Gyllenhaal is perfection.
I needed an antidote to the sameness of summer movies. That antidote is “Frank.” Go see it.
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures