Monday, 3 November 2014

Frank (2014)

In this weird, strange and charming dark comedy drama Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson take a journey through music mental illness and acceptance.

Inspired and drawing on the Frank Sidebottom character, Frank presents the story of of a group of avant-garde musicians and their newest, tagalong bandmate (Domhnall Gleeson) as they set out to produce a new album and eventually chase fame in their own messed up way. Lead by the enigmatic Frank who never appears, to anyone, without his giant full-face mask, the band are enraptured by his optimism and innate musical talent, but trying to create something beautiful out of something broken is never an easy ride.

Frank is a difficult film to write about in that it's such a mixture. There's comedy, a lot of it. It's very dark, while still being funny. And most importantly it deals with mental illness in a very real way. In the same way that films like 50/50 can still be funny when dealing with something as horrific as cancer, Frank acknowledges that, yes being broken in some way is terrible, but it doesn't mean that funny things can't happen along the way.

It's this issue with insanity and creativity being inherently linked to performance that hits home the most in Frank. Can great art be made without a hint of crazy? Of course it can. Does it help? Who knows. But it an issue that Frank explores with a touching underlying current of fragility and sincerity that tackles the matter with a refreshing sense of maturity.

Fassbender gives an unusually vulnerable performance, compared to all his bombastic success of recent years. Behind that giant fibreglass head is an actor who's able to deliver sheer brilliance with only body language to go on. A performance that can only hype me up more for his upcoming role as Macbeth.

Frank is a charming, strange and compelling film. The closing act takes a much darker turn after a lighter beginning, but gives the film an ultimately more compelling conclusion. Anyone even vaguely interested in the creative process of either music or film would do themselves a disservice by missing this film.

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