"Frank" opens with Jon (Domhall Gleeson) standing on a beach in England, desperately trying to find inspiration for song-writing. He has an unclassified desk-job, but he badly wants to be a musician. Watching Jon try to write lyrics is humble and fascinating. Within the first few minutes, I knew there was going to be something special about "Frank." Luckily, the movie was just getting warmed up.
Jon takes a seat on a bench outside of his office as he watches two policemen try and stop a man from drowning himself in the ocean. The man in the ocean happens to be the keyboardist for an eccentric band called "Soronprfbs," which is lead by the unusually mysterious Frank. Frank is a man that wears a paiper-mache helmet almost the entire movie. The character is brought to magnificent life by Michael Fassbender (more on Fassbender in just a minute here). After Jon wistfully expresses he plays keyboards, he is invited to the bands gig in the place of their old keyboardist. Before long, Jon becomes apart of the band. Jon accompanies the band to a secluded cottage, deep in the English countryside where the band will record their first album.
This is where the movie gets wickedly unique and just as wickedly funny. Frank pushes his band members to be as good as they can be. He finds sounds and samples from the most odd of places and he always seems to be inspired by the most subtle of places. Jon secretly records the group and posts his videos on Youtube, desperate for some big exposure from this whole experiment. Although the band believes that they should love what they do, and do to the best of their ability before they begin to become popular. That sets a riff between Jon and the rest of the group and each party seems to be clamoring for the acceptance of Frank.
Its the performances that really drive this movie. First, let's get into the work by Michael Fassbender, because he is a tour-de-force in this movie. Even though we barely see his face in the movie, he creates a whole character just from his body language and his voice. He uses a unique accent that only aggrandizes everything he does in the movie. This also happens to be the best role for Fassbender yet. He has never played somebody this damaged, this free-spirited, this playful. It seems director Lenny Abrahamson allowed Fassbender to let loose and tear it up in this movie. It shows, and it is good, very good.
Gleeson does strong work as Jon, he has the most sincere material in the whole movie and he also anchors the entire movie. It is a big part and Gleeson runs with it, relishes it, nurtures it to perfection. Maggie Gyllenhaal appears as Clara, one of the core band members and I can only describe her character as a hipster version of Martha Stewart. Gyllenhaal is quite funny in this movie, and much like Fassbender she seems to be allowed to do whatever on-screen and it works. I feel Scoot McNairy is quite underrated in Hollywood and he has a substantial role as the band's manager. Once again, McNairy displays a fantastic performances.
There are several awesome pieces of music in the movie and while it is all very weird, I'd totally buy a Soronprfbs record. I am going to immediately look for this film's soundtrack and I can't wait to blast it out of my car. In movies about bands, it is all about the music and this movie has some groovy sounds. Mix that with titular performances and sincere story about how fame can cripple us, "Frank" is treat.
FINAL GRADE: B