Last week I watched Frank, a film I’m having a tough time describing, but also a film I felt related with in more than one way and surprised me too.
Frank’s trailer was the main thing that sold me on watching it. To be honest it’s a bit tricky because the cut from what essentially is a 2 minute advertisement makes it look like an all out comedy, but then you begin the film and watch the plot peel like an onion until you realize there are some pretty sad undertones there.
Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) is a music aficionado who lives thinking of making songs, but never really gets around to actually make them. Maybe it’s because his mind is always distracted or because his perfectionism won’t let him start something that might turn out to be mediocre, but Jon is simply not capable of putting his thoughts into pentagrams and he drags on forcefully trying to find inspiration in everything he sees.
One day, Jon’s mundane existence is shaken when he witnesses a failed suicide attempt. The poor dude who couldn’t drown himself turned out to be the keyboardist for Soronprfbs, a small time band whose about to play a show in a few hours and now needs someone who can play three notes and stand for one hour. Jon volunteers as a solution and the next scene gives us our first look at the titular character, played by Michael “Magneto” Fassbender. You think he’s gonna rock it out of the park, but then you meet the other members of Soronprfbs and you see a pretty accurate parallel to the plot of the film itself.
Frank (the film) plays with the audience’s perception in more than one way and creates moments that are funny and sad at the same time. Jon plays the same role as the viewer, discovering characters who seem like the incarnation of the frustrated musician themselves — just like Jon — except they can actually play. Director Lenny Abrahamson plays with these perceptions in a way that keeps the film interesting whether you’re expecting these perceptions to be challenged or not.
In the beginning, the band casts Jon aside simply for being a stranger, an outsider who just happens to be able to play chords in their songs. He is part of the band, but only by default since even around them he still talks to them as if viewing through the looking glass of a telescope in space, all the while documenting everything that he likes and bothers him on Twitter during the band’s new album recording sessions.
On the other side, there’s Frank who also suffers from acute perfectionism, although justified because the man actually has talent underneath that mask he never takes off. He’s not a random crazy person, but a guy who seemingly hides behind the mask to have his cake and eat it with ease, which he does in more than one occasion. I think it would be freeing to live this way. It would definitely make getting away with things like this easier:
Ultimately, Frank is a film about the weird in all of us. Humans who managed to find each other and create a space to be happy in, doing what’s important to them, without having to worry about the outside world and their opinion. It is also a film about fitting in (or not) and facing the reality of things to make decisions, instead of letting life make those decisions for us.
Because it’s not all about the pretty pictures, the soundtrack of the film is actually nice. Fassbender even sings some of the songs in it, but my real take away from it was Carla Azar who plays Nana, the mute drummer (cliché!) of the band who in real life plays for experimental indie band, Autolux, and you should go google that right now. I’ll wait.
At the end of the day, Frank is a film that wears its heart on the sleeve and for better or worse, shows the consequences of trying to change someone whose feelings are pure in nature about something. It is very entertaining to watch if you like cynicism and dry humor, but below all that there’s something to think about.
Super Review is a column where I look at films, video games and comics when I have the chance to watch, play or read them. It is purely subjective and full of opinions you shouldn’t take too seriously. For more, check out the archive.