Sundance 2014: Frank reaction
Michael Fassbender + cartoon-headed craziness
Jan 18th 2014By Matt Risley
In case you hadn’t heard, Frank is a little bizarre.
Both in conception, production and even execution, the abbreviated synopsis may tag the movie as the tale of a young musician who joins an eccentric band, but the devil, as ever, is in the detail.
The band’s musical taste could be politely described as avant-garde (or a tuneless racket depending on your tastes), while its members are a gaggle of sociopathic nutjobs, all led by the titular Frank, a singer and songwriter who hides behind a giant cartoonish papier-mâché head, and who’s either a creative genius, severely mentally ill, or possibly even both.
And oh yeah, the actor under said papier-mâché mega-head is none other than Hollywood A-Lister Michael Fassbender.
Conventional it is not.
Bolstered by a feisty and adventurous cast featuring Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Scoot McNairy, it’s an undeniably trippy ride from start to finish.
If the thought of seeing a keyboardist pretend to lay an egg whilst wailing bird noises, or Maggie Gyllenhaal play a theremin in the middle of a field sounds a little too kooky, then brace yourselves, as that’s only the tip of the insanity iceberg.
Any worries that the real life story of Frank Sidebottom and the punk rocker-turned-teatime TV comedian who created him, Chris Sievey, would be too British to connect with wider audiences is all but null and void thanks to the movie’s weirder, wider ambitions.
While the inspiration was a troubled and arguably genius Mancunian artist, it’s not beholden to his story. Lenny Abrahamson’s movie is more concerned with exploring the glamourised mainstream misconception tying mental illness to creative genius, and all the shades in-between.
If that sounds heavy-going, rest easy in the knowledge that the majority of the movie is focused on delivering quirky, off-kilter laughs as the audience follows Gleeson’s struggle to find his place in the band, as well as his own creative spark.
Indeed, the movie’s weightiest issue is the final tonal shift into more directly messaged, darkly dramatic waters. Thankfully, even if the shift immediately jars, Frank‘s cast – both with and without giant head – rise to the challenge.
Guaranteed to polarise, Frank is destined to go down in curio history. Bonkers in every conceivable way.
Frank is set to open in UK cinemas in 2014.
BACK TO NEWS