I’ll admit it, I knew little to nothing about this movie before seeing it the first time. It was packaged up in a lovely little film festival in between dozens of other movies I was excited to see. I had seen the trailer and I thought to myself, ‘I like music, I like weird and quirky, and Michael Fassbender is not to bad to look at’. Instead what I got was so much more. Frank ended up being one of the best movies of that little film festival. I have watched and re-watched it. I have told my family and friends to watch it. It is a movie with heart and soul, a movie that stays with you. It is silly and fun, it is heart breaking and thought provoking. It’s almost perfect.
Jon Burroughs (Domhnall Glesson) is a struggling song writer and keyboardist. He suffers through his days at a regular office job with a mind struggling to make music. Fate has Jon standing staring at the sea as a stranger is trying to drown himself during a psychotic meltdown while his band members watch from their van. As the police drag their lunatic keyboardist away in an ambulance, Jon mentions he also plays the keyboard and they invited him to stand in for that evenings gig. Jon has no idea what he has gotten himself into. With very little knowledge of the band, its music or its members, he finds him himself playing in a strange one song gig that ends in a raging fight between the band members. Despite this, a few scenes later he ends up in remote cabin in the woods recording an album with them.
While at first excited about this opportunity, things don’t quite go the way Jon had planned. The band’s lead singer, Frank (Michael Fassbender), has a multitude of issues, and wearing a paper mache head isn’t the most disturbing of them. Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) hates Jon and chastises him for his lack of creativity. And the other two band members, who may or may not speak english, seem to either ignore him altogether or say terrible things to him in a language he doesn’t speak. Jon is determined to make the best of the situation and make his dream of stardom a reality. He forms a blog, uploads clips to youtube, and tweets about the band and the process of making a record. Before long, the unknown band has a following….and not everyone is happy about it.
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Room), written by Jon Ronson and Pet Straughan (The Men Who Stare at Goats) and starring Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhaal, this movie is not lacking in star power. The writing is phenomenal. Frank is chalked full of character development and emotion, while making your heart smile. The focus and struggle of several of the characters battling mental illness makes their development fascinating, and Abrahamson’s directing shines through in the chemistry of his actors. Their connections so real and justified. Gyllenhaal is flawless, perfect in her portrayal of an aloof artist. But the real gem is Michael Fassbender. I was completely in awe of him in the role of Frank – a misunderstood, certifiably insane, paper mache head wearing leader singer of an eccentric rock band. In fact I had forgotten Fassbender was in the movie altogether. He made you laugh, he broke your heart, and he made you love him all over again. And in the final scene of the movie, you found yourself wanting more.
Frank is a movie that you do not want to miss. With a blockbuster cast and crew, a fantastic story and an independent film feel, there is literally something for everyone. I laughed, I cried, I cursed, and I watched it again and again. It broke my heart in to little pieces and put it back together. And most of all, it left me wanting more.