It’s quirky, it’s weird, it’s funny–it’s, well, Frank. Although I was never previously acquainted with a Lenny Abrahamson film, Frank piqued my interest thanks to Michael Fassbender as its title character sporting a strange yet enticingly enigmatic paper mache head mask. However, Frank extends far beyond his quaintness; it’s also the story of Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), an aspiring songwriter–albeit, not the greatest one–who joins Frank’s experimental techno-folk-indie foursome after the lead keyboardist attempts to commit suicide. All to Jon’s surprise, he agrees to join, and finds himself becoming a part of the group… perhaps not in the way he would have expected, but part of the group, nonetheless. Thus, the madness begins.
Like the other band members, Jon becomes easily infatuated with the head inside the head of Frank. For one, Frank never removes his paper mache mask, yet he manages to find inspiration in the smallest things for composing music. How could anyone not be the least bit fascinated by his lyrical genius? What could he possibly be trying to hide, anyway?
Frank evolves into deeper territory than I had been anticipating; it’s partly about music, partly humor, and at the heart of it all is the mystery–and ultimately, the mental illness–surrounding Frank’s head.
Initially, I went into the theater bearing in mind that the woman at the concession told me it’d be funny (notwithstanding its vulgarities), but despite its humor, I was not emotionally prepared for the thought-provoking themes presented in its quaint storyline. It flip-flops between the sensibilities of Frank, while still trying to grapple with Frank and his band-mate’s ailing mentality as the film goes on. Its lightheartedness soon delves into themes of suicide, depression, and above all, what it truly means to be “sane”–all to leave me wondering what Frank was truly about. At most, it was a black comedy romp that had left me feeling depleted by the roller coaster of emotions that eventually fizzed into Frank’s third act.
By its end, I felt the need to know more of what happened to the characters–what would happen to Clara, to Frank, to Jon? Despite the film’s subtle imperfections, it had left me a sniveling mess–and, in part, slightly satisfied–from the emotional turmoil the characters underwent, all so they could reach this point of time.
Ignoring Frank’s loose ends by its denouement, it still manages to come together in a way that is ultimately satisfying for this viewer. While I had felt there could’ve been more, Frank has enough substance and heartbreak to stand on its own. Its flaws hardly deter from the film’s uniqueness in story; it came to be something that was a loose yet genuine homage to the comedian/musician Frank Sidebottom who inspired it. Overall, a great indie gem that will leave you in love with the elusiveness that can only be Frank, too.
US Release: August 15th