Movie Review - Frank

Domnhall Gleeson (right) wants to be closer to
Frank, played by Michael Fassbender, in "Frank"
Irish Filmmaker Lenny Abrahamson made What Richard Did (2013), a great character study about a young man, which was based on a true story. This film also by Abrahamson does the same thing. Except, it's not as great. It's certainly more comedic, but it's still a character study about a young man, based on a true story.

Domnhall Gleeson (About Time and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) stars as Jon Burroughs, a cute and absolutely adorable ginger who quits his office job to join an eccentric, music band as a keyboard player. The band is called Soronprfbs, and it's led by an even more eccentric man named Frank, played by Oscar-nominee Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave and X-Men: First Class). Frank used to be in a mental institution and one of the reasons why is because Frank constantly wears a papier-mâché mask that looks like he's wearing the head of a South Park character.

Other members of the band include Clara, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, the one who wrangles Frank more than any other and is the Frank whisperer. There's also Don, played by Scoot McNairy (Argo and Non-Stop), who is the manager, as well as Baraque and Nana, two French musicians.

They all hold up in a cabin, nestled far away in the woods. They live there while they write and record an album. There's a lot of funny moments, as Jon tries to find his voice as a musician and compose his own work, and as he tries to get closer to Frank, much to Clara's chagrin. Sex with mannequins, fornication in a hot tub, and verbalizing facial expressions are good jokes. A joke around a suicide, however, was rather offensive, but the rest of the comedy hits well often.

The problem is that the story is told exclusively from Jon's point-of-view. Jon's song lyrics in his head, which directly comment on what he sees, are hilarious. Jon's ironic and comical tweets and blog posts, which appear as super-imposed graphics on screen, are amusing, but, as the title and the ending of this film suggest, this movie should be from Frank's point-of-view. We should be exclusively in Frank's shoes. We should be inside that papier-mâché head.

The film wants to be about Frank and Clara's relationship. When Jon tries to take her place, or win Frank all to himself, we see how disastrous it becomes. Jon pushes Frank into a situation that Clara never would, but the only thing it serves is to show that Jon isn't as good a fit in the band as he thinks or might want.

The real fit about which one is curious though is Frank's. When Frank and Clara reunite, we don't get what it means for Frank. An undercurrent of the film is about what Frank looks like under the mask and why he wears it and why he continues to wear it for so long. By the end, that undercurrent is totally lost.

Spoiler alert! Frank eventually loses his South Park head. He resists it at first, but after it's gone, it's gone. He doesn't try to get it back. It remains gone, and the question is why. After years of having it on, probably decades of having it on, Frank exists rather easily without it and I don't understand why. Because of which, his moment at the end when he sings the last song feels hollow.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated R for language and some sexual content.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 35 mins.


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