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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Frank (2014)


Indie musicians have it worse.

Wannabe musician and overall simpleton, Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) stumbles upon the opportunity of a lifetime: Fill in as a keyboardist for a band that’s coming to town. Seems simple enough and will definitely allow Jon to show others his love and passion for music, but he soon finds out that this isn’t necessarily the band to show that off with. First of all, nobody in the band really cares for him. The manager (Scoot McNairy) is constantly on the verge of losing his total mind and doesn’t really know what to do with this band. And to make matters worse, the lead singer is a guy by the name of Frank (Michael Fassbender), who wears a paper-mache head. Is it to hide who he really is? Is it some form of artistic expression? Or, is it just a gimmick that the band rolls with in order to gain any sort of publicity? Nobody really knows, but Jon’s willing to find that all out when he joins the band in the woods where they’ll stay at a cabin and record what’s supposed to be their next album. However, the process is a lot harder than he, or anybody else involved with the band had originally imagined.

So yeah, basically, this is just Almost Famous, but with a smaller-budget and an odd gimmick. Which isn’t to say that’s such a bad thing to begin with, but it turns out that the gimmick after all is really just that this dude wears a paper-mache head practically the whole entire time this film is on for. And to make the gimmick even more unique, well, we have none other than Michael Fassbender himself underneath that head.

Didn't feel like shaving your face in a normal way, now did ya?

Didn’t feel like shaving your face in a normal way, now did ya?

Which is, yes, a total shame for any ladies/men out there who wanted to get their fine helping of some M-Fass, only to come in and realize that you just hear him use this really poor American-accent. And hey, if that’s how you like your M-Fass movies, then this will definitely be a treat for you. However, if you’re at all like me and actually like to see M-Fass put his talents to good use by using that demanding face of his, or just his overall, physical-prowess that seems to command any movie he’s apart of, then you’ll probably want to steer clear of this and watch something like Shame or Hunger.

Because you’ll most likely get more than a small helping of M-Fass watching those two.

Anywho, I guess what I’m trying to say is that while it’s definitely interesting to see someone as notable and as talented as Michael Fassbender to hide his face from us and act in a movie where we hardly see him at all, it doesn’t quite work. Which isn’t to say that he’s bad, it’s just that the rest of the film surrounding him doesn’t really know what to do, or where to go with his character, or even the plot as a whole.F

For instance, the aspect of this movie where it could have really excelled was in the recording-process and how these band-members all came together to create something wonderfully unique. That would have been neat to see, but as time goes on, it becomes quite clear that director Lenny Abrahamson isn’t at all interested in doing something like that; instead, he focuses most of his attention on these characters, their quirky “isms”, and how all of them are incapable of just being normal for a single second. They all seem likes satirical jokes of the kind of hipster, lo-fi indie band you’d see from music festivals like Firefly, or Lollapalooza, or Coachella, but instead, they’re here and rather than humanizing them or making them anything more than just a butt of their own jokes, Abrahamson just explores their quirky-personalities even more.

Which would have been fine in the first place, had any of these personalities been funny in the slightest bit, but they’re not. They’re just strange people, acting strange and doing strange things, without much rhyme or reason. People out there who enjoy smoking weed or can at least identify slightly with these struggling, rather pretentious musicians, will probably find a whole to laugh and love about these characters and how they are, but for anybody wanting a reason for their actions or what it is exactly that they can bring to the table in terms of plot/character-development, then they’ll be utterly disappointed.

And if I had to label this whole movie down to one word, it would probably be just that: Disappointed. I myself am a musician and enjoy watching how certain music is made or comes to fruition in the first place, regardless of if it’s in a documentary or a scripted-piece. Either way, I just like to see how music is made and how people can put their minds to the test when it comes to creating something. Here though, I didn’t get that; instead, I just saw a bunch of wacky characters, be just that. Problem was, I didn’t really care for them, the music the ended up creating (if they ever even got to in the first place), and really, there ended up being nothing interesting said here at all.

Add in some drum-loops and you've got yourself a catchy single.

Add in some drum-loops and you’ve got yourself a catchy single.

Abrahamson seems like he sort of gets to doing that with the character of Frank himself, but it never really pans out to much other than just, “this guy’s a bit cooky, but he’s somehow a musical genius”. Firstly, we never see him actually being a musical genius; he just says and does weird things, and when he doesn’t have the right inspiration for whatever piece he wants to create, he loses his mind and runs around like a crazed-lune. The movie is clearly in love with this character, but it spends so much time just focusing on his odd personality, it hardly leaves us any room to make up our own minds on him. We’re just supposed to love him too, but the “why” is never made clear enough.

Same goes for our main protagonist, Jon. While Domhnall Gleeson is perfectly cast in, yet again, another “normal guy” role, his character’s just boring. Maybe that’s the point, to show the differences he has with the rest of the members in the band, but it doesn’t do anything to help him, or even this movie considering he’s the only character we could connect with amongst all of the hustle and bustle. But that’s not what happens. So instead, we’re supposed to wait around for this band to eventually come together, create some sort of wonderful music, and see if they can all survive as one. But like with music as a whole, everybody likes something different.

Consensus: By appearing so helplessly in love with its title-character, Frank turns out to be nothing more than a fluff-piece for somebody who doesn’t really deserve one, nor any of the other characters either.

4 / 10 = Crapola!!

Sort of like how my band's shows look like. But with ACTUAL PEOPLE THERE.

Sort of like how my band’s shows look like. But with ACTUAL PEOPLE THERE. Yeah! Take that, hipsters!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

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13 responses to “Frank (2014)

  1. Joseph@thecinemamonster September 15, 2014 at 5:02 am

    Oh wow, we are at opposite ends of the rating scale on this one!

  2. Jordan Richardson September 15, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Wow, I couldn’t disagree with you more. This is one of my favourite pictures of the year thus far. Oh well.

  3. Laura O September 15, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Crapola?! Blimey, I loved this film?

  4. Nostra September 15, 2014 at 7:17 am

    Surprised to see your review after hearing a lot of positive things about it. Still will check it out myself to see what I think of it.

  5. alicoysh September 15, 2014 at 8:11 am

    I have to say I disagree as well, this has been out in the UK a long time now and personally this is one of my favourite films of the year (in a strong year that contains Calvary, Under the Skin, Her & Grand Budapest Hotel.) I think you may have missed the point of this film and I do wonder how much not being exposed to the real Frank Sidebottom plays a part to this. This is a genuinely touching film about outsider art and looks at methods people go to make great music (biggest nod is to Captain Beefheart whilst making Trout Maks Replica album).

    I think Fassbender is great and does a lot with body language and it is to his credit that this paper mâché mask takes on takes on different emotions without ever changing it’s expression. Ultimately it’s a lovely tale of being who you are and not changing for commercial success, they mystery in why there is a mask is great and when there is the final pay off personally it’s very sad.

    Of course everything is subjective it’s a shame such a gem is reviewed as crapolla. I’d love this film to do well as I think it’s a sweet and very unusual little film.

  6. angie chui September 15, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Great review. I’m going to take your advice on this one. 😀

  7. alicoysh September 15, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Ahh this is a such a shame, personally this is one of the best films of a very strong year for indie films (Calvary, Under the Skin to name a couple)

    I think this is a charming film about outsider art, I do wonder how much exposure to the real Frank Sidebottom will hinder it’s relevance and success in the US? It is certainly right to allude to almost famous but it also draws from real life Captain Beefheart and the Trout Mask Replica album. It is a nice film that grapples with several ideas, mental illness, commercial vs artistic success.

    I personally felt Fassbender did a great job, to not be able to see his ace and utilise body language to portray a full array of emotions is a credit to him. He does well and the fact the mask is expressionless yet takes on all emotions on display is a true triumph. The mystery behind the mask too is of intrigue as well and when there is a big reveal the pay off is worth while and heartfelt.

    Of course as eluded to it is all subjective but I do feel this film deserves a wider audience… Maybe that’s the point as outsider art by its nature it won’t find a commercial audience.

  8. Joan Fuchsman September 15, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Couldn’t agree more with you. Disappointing is a good word to describe the film.

  9. Three Rows Back September 15, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Saw this last night and really enjoyed it. Horses for courses I guess. Nicely reviewed Dan.

  10. whitdenton98 September 16, 2014 at 12:58 am

    I’ve heard really mixed things on this one and your review has sealed the deal, I will not see this! Terrific review Dan.

  11. Mark Hobin September 16, 2014 at 7:12 am

    I know I saw this film, because here’s the proof: http://fastfilmreviews.com/2014/08/24/frank/ but honestly I can’t remember a thing about it now. Forgettable.

  12. Courtney Small September 17, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    I can see how Frank would turn many off, but I had a great time with this film.

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