FRANK

5.5 out of 10

UK / Ireland Co-Production

Release Date: 9th May 2014

Director: Lenny Abrahamson (What Richard Did / Adam & Paul)

Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy, Michael Fassbender, Francois Civil, Carla Azar, Bruce McIntosh and Tess Harper

Writer: Jon Ronson & Peter Straughan

Trailer: FRANK

UnknownTo be proofread: Frank has the potential to be on many people’s top five lists of the year because it’s very likeable and sweet. It was too sweet for me though and I didn’t think it gelled until the closing stages.  It’s a very strange film about an agoraphobic singer called Frank (MICHAEL FASSBENDER – SHAME) who hides his face inside a massive paper-mache/plastic head. He is the lead singer in an experimental new wave band called the Soronprfbs.  We join the band as square office worker John (DOMHNALL GLEESON – ABOUT TIME) is recruited as their keyboard during a chance meeting on a UK beach. He is taken to a hideaway in deepest Ireland to record the bands new LP. John is welcomed in and frozen out in equal parts by the odd-job bunch of hipsters that make up the band. Along the way John manages to get them a live slot at the SXSW festival in Texas, USA which could well spell doom for Frank and everybody else.

Like Frank who is effortlessly quirky, the rest of the cast struggle in their roles and as actors to pull the same trick. When it’s not Frank being weird, the film feels forced. The weirdness is too pronounced and hard to swallow. Largely plotless the pace slows to a halt as soon as the band arrive in Ireland to record the LP. Exaggerated characterisation sinks most of what happens next. Domhnall Gleeson is caught acting too many times and his wide eyed goody goody act (the same one he employed in About Time) just got on my nerves. When he commandeers the band in the later stages for his own ends it just demonstrates what happens when talentless doofus’s  get too big for their boots. It’s around this stage that you really begin to feel bad for Frank. And this is where the film sparks into life. The last 20 minutes of Frank are incredible. The ending is as poignant and as sad as anything I’ve seen recently. So somewhere along the line all the quirkiness and stupidity must be working on some level because you do feel like you’ve gotten to like these characters after all. Frank is far from perfect and tries too hard, but like it’s hero it just wants to be liked and where’s the harm in that? The pay off is magnificent and will have a good proportion of you reaching for your hankies.

5.5 out of 10 – Worth a look. But it’s perhaps the slowest film to come to boil I’ve ever seen. But at least it does. The ending and Michael Fassbender’s lovely performance are the only reasons to bother. It’s worth it, to be frank.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Domhnall Gleeson: Star Wars 8, The Revenant,Star Wars  – The Force Awakens, Brooklyn, Ex Machina, Calvary, About TimeShadow Dancer, DreddAnna Karenina (2012), True Grit (2011), Never Let Me Go, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows 1 & 2
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal: White House Down, Hysteria, Nanny McPhee 2, Crazy Heart, Away We Go, The Dark Knight, Stranger Than Fiction, World Trade Center, Monster House (voice), Sherrybaby, Criminal (2004), Mona Lisa Smile, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Adaptation, 40 Days and 40 Nights, Secretary, Riding In Cars With Boys, Donnie Darko, Cecil B Demented, A Dangerous Woman, Waterland
  • Scoot McNairy: Batman v Superman, Our Brand Is Crisis, Black Sea, The Rover, Gone Girl, Non-Stop, 12 Years a Slave, Promised Land, Argo, Killing Them Softly,A Night In The Woods, Monsters, In Search Of a Midnight Kiss,Mr Fix-It, Herbie – Fully Loaded
  • Michael Fassbender: Assassin’s Creed, X Men 5, Trespass Against Us, Steve Jobs, Macbeth (2015), Slow West, X Men 4, 12 Years a Slave, The Counsellor, Prometheus, Haywire, Shame, A Dangerous Method, Jane Eyre (2011), X Men- First Class, Jonah Hex, Centurion, Inglourious Basterds, Fish Tank, Eden Lake, Hunger, 300, Band Of Brothers (TV)
  • Tess Harper: True Detective (TV), Breaking Bad (TV), No Country For Old Men, My New Gun, Man In The Moon, Far North (1988), Ishtar, Silkwood, Amityville 3D, Tender Mercies
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