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article imageReview: Everyone wants to be ‘Frank’ Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Aug 18, 2014 in Entertainment
‘Frank’ is the captivating portrait of a unique singer who leads his band’s unusual creative process from the inside of a huge, fake head.
People's eccentricities are often dismissed once someone indicates they're "artistic" in some way. Unconventional clothes and bizarre hair styles are just some of the outwardly expressions of their inventiveness. Some artists wear masks for various reasons, sometimes only known to them. In Frank, the title character wears an oversized papier-mâché head over his own at all times.
Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) tries to find musical inspiration in everything, but it doesn't translate well to his compositions. Therefore when he's offered a spot in an eccentric pop band led by the mysterious Frank (Michael Fassbender), the wanna-be musician cannot say no. What begins as a weekend of dream fulfillment turns into an inescapable journey of creation and destruction.
Since premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January, this film has received undeniable buzz. Though co-written by Jon Ronson, a former band mate of Frank Sidebottom, the film is only loosely based on Chris Sievey's comedic, punk creation and the infamously unconventional recording process of Captain Beefheart. Instead the film focuses on the effects such a bizarre personality can have on the people around him. Except that it seems Frank has already surrounded himself with strange individuals who gravitated to his eccentricity.
Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is assumedly Frank's girlfriend and possibly soul mate. The eerie sound of her Theremin matches her intense personality. She doesn't like to share Frank's attention, so she's immediately threatened by his interest in Jon. Of the other two Goth band members, one (Carla Azar) speaks very little and the other (François Civil) only communicates in French. The manager (Scoot McNairy) is a peculiar little man with an unusual sex fetish who is in total awe of Frank. He is also Jon's guide through the madness of recording an album and going on tour.
Though Jon is narrating the story through his blog and Twitter posts, it all comes back to Frank in the end. Everyone feeds off of the enigmatic singer to generate an electronic sound that is actually more coherent than most of their conversations about music. What the head hides is unknown, whether it be disfigurement or shame; but he literally never takes it off. When he’s eventually forced to remove the dome, the truth is surprising.
Hidden behind a muffling mask, Fassbender still delivers a compelling performance. His calm and almost soothing demeanor is reflective of the permanent smile on the fake head he dons. In an attempt to connect more fully with people he begins to say his facial expressions aloud, which just becomes another of his endearing quirks. Gyllenhaal is fittingly difficult to understand or like, while Gleeson portrays her polar opposite by being friendly and supportive.
This isn't the easiest film to deconstruct because it does so much of that itself, but it's weird, wonderful and worthwhile.
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson and Maggie Gyllenhaal
More about Review, Frank, michael fassbender, Maggie gyllenhaal, Domhnall Gleeson
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