Under The Radar Films — Frank

An eccentric, terrific indie that dreams big and surges brilliance


Most music movies go a very certain, conventional way. The viewer is introduced to a struggling, unpopular band off oddball misfits; the band dreams big; the band makes it big; the band nearly breaks up; the band makes up and the credits roll. Frank could have easily slipped into this structure, the only thing distinguishing it from its counterparts being a bulbous, fake head worn by the main character. Luckily, director Lenny Abrahamson has tapped into a sort of offbeat, unprecedented brilliance on this film, which strays away from all genre conventions and predictable outcomes. Starring Micheal Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllennhaal, and Scoot McNairy, Frank follows the story of Jon (Gleeson), an inspiration-less, aspiring songwriter who crosses paths with the experimental band Soronprfbs and becomes their keyboardist. Led by the eccentric and radiantly mysterious Frank, this ragtag group of mentally ill musicians — One of which used to make love to mannequins — Take Jon to Ireland with them to record their album, where Jon begins to post videos and snippets of the band performing on the internet, scoring Soronprfbs a spot at the renowned US music festival SXSW.

Intertwining bizarre spirit and eccentric comedy, Frank manages to be many things at once: A kooky perspective of psychological disorder, a colorful vein of wit and creative energy, and a scope on the idea of fame, to name three. From the start, Frank is outlandishly charming; not once does it fall short on substance or spark, and the character of Frank is captivating from the start — The fact that the story is told from the innocent, on-the-outs Jon, a last minute addition to the band, creates a certain distance from Frank’s psyche that constantly left me begging to get into Frank’s head (which is literally impossible due to his anomaly). Jon represents the viewer — Someone who (likely) feels disconnected from these odd individuals, but eventually becomes one of them by the end. Frank is immediately introduced as insightful and understanding, so it begs the question: “Why would such a genuine, thoughtful person resort to never exposing their face?” His character is so charismatic and affable that you eventually forget his psychological condition — A disorder that’s subtly explained throughout the film, and by the end strikes the human spirit with an unrivaled force. Frank’s one of a kind exceptionality has the other characters in the film nowhere near the running for ‘biggest oddball’, though the quarrelsome synthesizer player Clara (Gyllennhaal), the mannequin-affectionate band manager Don, and the mystery-shrouded foreign bassist played by François Civil bring the film an additional stock of atmosphere and substance. The dynamic, sensational thing about this odd-lot of characters is that they’re ultimately embraceable and never fail to season the film with a medley of unconventional wit as they’re forced to share a space and build their band up from nearly nothing.

At it’s roots, Frank is a charming rock & roll flick with an offbeat hipster attitude — A basis that’s used to conceal so much more emotional weight. A wondrous piece of misfit brilliance, this is a film that’s sure to inspire, charm, and be remembered as one of 2014’s finest.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-catC4tBVyY&w=560&h=315]
Magnolia Pictures