MICHAEL FASSBENDER MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL DOMHNALL GLEESON
I am really bothered by the fact that in the movie Frank, not only is SXSW mentioned, but they actually attend. Sure, Austin is mentioned in a majority of the films that have played the film festival, but this one seems to actively campaign in order to be accepted. Of course, the star power doesn’t hurt things, combined with the fact that it's about a fictional indie band with a lead singer who wears a giant, fake head. Sounds like Austin material to me. Frank is also the second film I saw at the festival to use Twitter within the film (Chef was the other). None of this really matters, however, because Frank gets annoying pretty quickly. Along with the horribly off pitch singing, the film is fairly unbalanced as well.
On a typical walk home from work, Jon (Gleeson) witnesses a band’s keyboardist trying to drown himself in the ocean. Jon speaks to the Don (Scoot McNairy), one of the original founding members, and he offers him the gig instantly. The rest of the band members aren't very happy about Jon joining their band. They head into the wilderness to work on a new album, but Jon begins to understand that most of the members, including lead singer Frank (Fassbender), are all mentally ill. Jon attempts to steer the group in a new, more accessible direction, even using Twitter and social media to get them into SXSW. However, Jon’s presence marks the beginning of the end for a band no one understands.
One of the only things I found funny in the script is how Frank begins to describe his facial expressions so Jon can feel more comfortable about the giant fake head. If you know anything about the film, you know Oscar nominated actor Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) is under there (or at least supplying the voice until the head eventually comes off) and the suspense of when we see his face does drive some interest in the plot. The screenplay spins around like a broken record as they tackle the same issues over and over; it gets boring really quick.
I did find it a bit ironic and coincidental that two people get hit by cars in the film, especially following the tragic events that unfolded at the 2014 SXSW festival where two people died after getting run over. Oscar nominated Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart) is lost in this baffling production that feels like another typical SXSW film where the inside joke is never fully realized for a large audience. What does it mean? What are they trying to say? Frank is more like a gimmick film with nothing left on the page to make this giant headed lead singer very interesting.
Final Thought – Unusual but ultimately uninteresting.
By: Dustin Chase