An aspiring musician joins a band of eccentrics led by an enigmatic singer — who wears a fake head — and his unstable girlfriend.

Year: 2014
Certificate: 15
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy, Michael Fassbender, François Civil, Carla Azar, Tess Harper, Bruce McIntosh

Information Page:

Frank Sidebottom, A.K.A. Chris Sievey, was a rather popular entertainer during the late 80’s and early 90’s. With his strong Mancunian accent and somewhat enigmatic style he was best known for a string of family-friendly comedy shows and amusing pop songs. Oh, and his giant papier-mâché head. In fact, maybe the giant head was what he was best known for…

Frank“, as the name suggests, is the story of Jon (Gleeson) an aspiring musician who winds up joining ‘The Soronprfbs’; an obscure, experimental band led by Frank (Fassbender). You can probably tell already that this review is a bit… odd…? But in a sense that is quite fitting to the film.

Frank was co-written by a chap called Jon Ronson – who actually played keyboards alongside the ‘real’ Frank Sidebottom in his band “Frank Sidebottom’s Oh Blimey Big Band” in the late 1980’s – but “Frank”, the film, is NOT a biopic. In the film, Frank is an American hailing from Kansas and and it is set in modern times. The character of Jon is loosely based on the real Jon’s experiences but you need to remember that it is still a work of fiction. So, with that rather verbose explanation out of the way, I guess I should actually review it!

The film begins with Jon trying his hardest to find inspiration for his music and songs in every day objects, we see him walking through the town singing everything he sees and then rushing indoors to try and record them on his Mac – only to realise the amazing tune he’d just composed, had already been composed by someone else… Things aren’t looking good for Jon’s musical career but when he witnesses the keyboard player from ‘The Soronprfbs’ attempt suicide on the beach, he winds up with a gig.

As the band head out to Ireland to record their album, Jon posts videos on YouTube of the recording process – without the other band members knowing. Throughout the film there are overlays, that work as a kind of narrative, showing tweets, blog posts and tumblr posts along with the number of followers. We the viewer become aware of the bands popularity, but the band themselves are oblivious… That is until they get invited to the prestigious SXSW Festival.

In the lead up to this Jon is constantly trying to become a real part of the band but constantly feels left out and the band, while they gel in the studio, never really feel very together as a group. Frank is your typical ‘troubled artist’ and their music is utter rubbish – but they all believe in it and that gives them some kind of bond. There are some amusing moments throughout the film and there are are some tragic moments too but the screenplay and acting are that good that none of it seems forced. It feels very real, your heart will bleed for Jon yet you will also feel empathy for Frank, who clearly has mental health issues.

By the end of the film you feel like you know the band – you have, after all, travelled with them through thick and thin. To me, that’s a sign of a good film. “Frank” is entertaining, it’s comedic yet emotional, serious but fun. It may not be the best film I’ve seen and I’d probably not watch it again, but I don’t feel that I’ve wasted 95 minutes of my life.

If you’re stuck for something to watch, enjoy a fun soundtrack and fancy something different then maybe give “Frank” a try. You could do far worse.

Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there is any film on Netflix you want us to review let us know!

About MaFt

Film and TV fan, creator of New On Netflix (UK, USA, Australia and Canada), dad of two amazing children, code geek and passionate about autism.

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