In the mood for an unpredictable, very dark comedy with superb acting and a path you wont expect? FRANK is for you.
The charming Domhnall Gleeson stars as Jon, an office worker by day and frustrated song writer by night. As he attempts to escape his everyday life by writing a great song, he stumbles onto a one night gig as the keyboardist for an unpronounceable band.
The band is comprised of a French couple that disdain everything NOT French, Don (the terrific Scoot McNairy) who is the friendliest member and our avenue into the band and Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaall) the girlfriend of the lead singer, Frank.
Where to begin describing Frank.
At first quiet, then increasingly charming, all while wearing a giant fake head, Frank is the power of the band, with a hunger to reach the masses. Frank is played by the brilliant Michael Fassbender (Inglorious Basterds, XMEN) in a performance surprisingly powerful in that he wears the head for 98% of the film.
As Jon goes from one night member to online sensation during a year plus sojourn to a cabin in the woods to record their next album, we get to know all the band members, or at least the face they wear in front of others.
When Jon's YouTube postings about the band go viral, they are invited to perform as a featured group at the huge SXSW Music Festival in Austin.
Clara wants to remain unknown, Frank wants much more and Jon is stuck in the middle. About midway through the film, there is a seismic change in tone as we get to know more about Frank and get a peek behind the facade, if not the giant head.
I imagine some audiences were thrown by this turn and it certainly isn't subtle, but I found myself really caring about Frank and Jon and even Clara, in spite of her attitude!
The film has much more to say than a standard comedy and as its tone grows much darker from its black comedy opening, you'll find yourself pulled into a serious consideration of mental health.
Fassbinder is excellent from beginning to end, though it is difficult to justify some of Frank's behavioral arc within the film. His acting holds it together, overcoming what for me were some hard to connect moments in the writing.
FRANK is challenging, sweet, funny, sad and ultimately rewarding. We give this quirky little 90 minute journey a solid B.