15th Sep2014

‘Frank’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Domhnall Gleeson, Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhall, Clara Azar, Francois Civil, Scoot McNairy  | Written by Jon Ronson, Peter Straughan | Directed by Lenny Abrahamson

Frank-cast

People over a certain age in the UK will always remember Frank Sidebottom, he was that right kind of odd to stick in your memory forever.  This is one reason that seeing his papier-mâché head make an appearance in a film that really isn’t about him is a bit odd.  In truth though Frank is a film that is kind of based on memories of Sidebottom and if anything Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan’s writing has captured the spirit of what Frank actually represented.

When Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) a wannabe musician finds himself playing keyboard in an eccentric band, he becomes infatuated with the enigmatic front man Frank (Michael Fassbender).  His face hidden behind a papier-mâché head he wears Frank is the inspiration for all of the music created by the band who protect Frank from the outside world, especially Clara (Maggie Gyllenhall) whose aggression against Jon shows her distrust of the new comer.  As Jon brings the outside world with him and uses the internet to bring attention to the band, is this what they want or is it all Jon’s own dreams of success getting in the way of what they have?

What is impressive about Frank is the fact that you will fall for the character himself.  Michael Fassbender may spend the movie with the oversized head hiding his famous looks but his body language is more than enough to infuse the character with the lust for life the character needs.  Music gives him life and Fassbender portrays this spirit in his performance in a surprisingly successful way.  This version of Frank obviously has some form of mental illness, this is never hidden from the audience, but in the safe world of the band and its music he is safe to be whom he truly wants to be.  The intrusion of Jon into this world shows the cracks that are already there in the small family of musicians and they all have their issues, but they have a happiness together that is infectious and gives the film it’s spark.

This happiness they have together is shown in the music itself which is important because it represents just who they are.  Jon comes into the scene and sees the potential to create something more popular, and Frank being somebody who wants to be adored and wants everybody to love his music is more than happy to follow him down the road to stardom, where Clara sees the dangers of this and tries to protect him against the world.  The real question is, do they need stardom or do they just need their music? This sounds like slightly pretentious I know, but in truth the film never really hits any level of snobbery when it comes to the music, this is not what is being aimed for.  Music is the soul of who Frank is and when that is in danger, this is when he is vulnerable.  The fact you care about Frank so much is what is important, and the fact that Fassbender really is excellent in the role makes the film work so well.

Another element that fits into place with Frank is the performance of Maggie Gyllenhall as Clara.  Her hatred of Jon is built from her protectiveness over Frank, she is his safety, and even if overly aggressive in her attempts to be the protector.  Gyllenhall puts her all into the role and even though there is a darkly comic tint to her character this doesn’t damage what Clara represents.  Respect must also be paid to Clara Azar and Francois Civil who play Nana and Baraque the two other members of the band they may be less of a focus, but they still play their role in the family, as does Don (Scoot McNairy) the mannequin loving manager.

Frank is about music, life and mental illness and it is a film that is not afraid to show that Frank the character in this film does have issues which is the point of the mask.  Is he hiding from life, is it his shield? This we don’t get an answer to, and really we don’t need to know why.  All we need to know is that Michael Fassbender creates such a perfect character in Frank that you become as infatuated with him as the characters on-screen do.  Funny but most importantly heart-warming Frank is something truly special and with the performances of Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhall really is a film that should be sought out and enjoyed.

Frank is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.

***** 5/5

Funny but most importantly heart-warming Frank is something truly special and with the performances of Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhall really is a film that should be sought out and enjoyed.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

 

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