Wednesday 29 October 2014

Film Review: Frank

"Nobody cared who I was before I put on the mask..."

From director Lenny Abrahamson, Frank is an indie flick about making it in the music industry - it stars Michael Fassbender, Domnhall Gleeson and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Frank is an immensely hard film to pin down - simply branding it offbeat and quirky doesn't do it justice. It's hip, wry and heartfelt all at once, an unexpectedly entertaining blend of humour and drama which took me completely off guard. And, even though I'm writing this review, I'm not sure I quite know what to make of it.

(Note: I actually wrote most of this review three days after I started, once I had a better handle on what the movie was going for)

The film is about Jon (Domnhall Gleeson), an aspiring musician who gets swept up on a journey of self-exploration after joining an avant-garde band fronted by the mysterious Frank (Michael Fassbender), whose face is permanently concealed beneath a comically oversized mask.

As they spend their days locked away in a remote log cabin recording, Jon finds that the band revere Frank, and are all struggling with their own inner demons. For a comedy, Frank is a very emotionally-charged film, and that makes for some wonderful character drama later in the movie.

Domnhall Gleeson makes a likeable lead, and I thought he did a really great job in this movie. His character, Jon, is our entry point into this group of oddballs, and we see their dysfunctional nature through his eyes. He kind of gets overshadowed by Fassbender, but is by no means a weak link in this film.

Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Clara, Frank's long-term partner and friend. To say Clara is mentally unhinged is putting it lightly - basically, she's completely bonkers. It's a very different role to the movies we've seen Gyllenhaal take on in the past (The Dark Knight, White House Down) and showcases her penchant for dark, offbeat comedy - kind of like what we say in one of her first movies, Donnie Darko.

Despite concealing his greatest asset for the majority of the movie (for fans of Shame, I'm talking about his face), Fassbender actually proves to be the best thing about the whole movie. The way he utilises his body, and movement to convey comedy is brilliant. Even without seeing his face, Fassbender's character is clutch-your-sides funny.

I thought the movie took a really long time to get going - I sat through the first half an hour thinking, "is this it? Is this the whole movie?". It took until about the 45-minute mark for things to really slot into gear. I think that's my main complaint about the film - I found it doesn't really know what it wants to be until the second half. When it clicks, the movie is great - the characters are funny, the tone has been established, the dialogue soars and everything runs a lot smoother.

It's a very dark film at times. This isn't your cliche-ridden Hollywood comedy. Like I said, the characters are very damaged, broken people. It's affecting stuff, and luckily, the talented cast finds the perfect middle-ground for the movie (eventually). It's a very unique and original movie, one that you really can't predict. It's refreshing and different, which at the end of the day, elevates it above most.

The Verdict: 8.5/10

It took me a while to really 'get' Frank, but once I sat back and thought about it, I realised what I'd seen was an immensely original and interesting piece of cinema. It's not your straight-up comedy, and it actually has a lot to say about isolation, friendship and expression. The lead trio are superb, and the writing is really clever and touching.  Well worth checking out if you're looking for something off piste.


  1. Great review! Frank is a unique piece of cinema that blends in humor and drama. I share your sentiments in not knowing what to make of it, but it features fine pieces of acting from Fassbender, Gyllenhaal and Gleeson.

    1. Thanks! I think unique is certainly one way of describing it :) Definitely not what I expected, but in a good way. The acting, especially from Fassbender, was awesome. Thanks for commenting! :)

  2. I'm super excited to watch this one! Great potential, in my mind...

    1. Then hop to it! It's very offbeat and unique.



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