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SFF’14 Movie Review: “Frank”

January 31, 2014

Screen shot 2014-01-31 at 6.26.07 PMThere’s always that one movie that has everyone talking on the buses of Park City, that one movie where people didn’t know what to think, or how to accept, or possibly even appreciate. It can be that one black sheep movie, or simply just a bizarre cinematic experience no one saw coming, but…to be ‘Frank’, what can you expect from a film that has Michael Fassbender wearing a giant plaster head for the whole 90 minute runtime?

We live in a social media world; Facebook, Twitter, whatever, if you want to garner fame, sometimes abusing these sites for personal gain is the best way to put yourself out there. That’s what Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), a young wanna-be musician, does everyday through his mundane life. Jon dreams of gaining fame by being in an epic rock band. Jon bites off more than he can chew as he’s suddenly whisked away into Frank’s (Fassbender) world. Frank is the leader of strange pop-techno group, who can’t even finish one song to an album they plan on recording, all without playing each verse at least 50 times.

Jon knows there’s something special about Frank, and he plans to show the world, through his twitter, vine, instagram, and whatever! Frank’s band mates don’t take too kindly to Jon, especially the vivacious Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal), whose spastic emotions is used as a weapon against Jon and Frank. Yet, Frank’s childlike wonderment is what really captures Jon’s attention, and all Jon wants is for people to see what he sees in Frank…besides the giant plaster head that never takes off.

The clever use of pop-up tweets throughout the film is one of many unique ideas “Frank” sprouts. The film is inspired by a real life Frank-fellow screenwriter/journalist Jon Ronson knew. Ronson was essentially the Jon in the film, his experiences with his Frank differed in a lot of ways, however his Frank did wear the head all the time. Instead of making a straight biopic, Ronson wanted to write something as absurd as the real life character the movies based on. Taking the characters to SXSW in Austin was something of a special moment for the moviegoers. It’s a festival where the strange and unusual are welcomed with open arms.

However, the topic of mental health disorders is a crucial theme for “Frank”. It takes a particular person with psychological problems having the need to wear a fake head over their own face to cover their identity. Call it identity crisis; call it shame, or even bi-polar disorder. Fassbender shows new sides of his acting abilities in this film, some of which many of his fans will never see coming. His playfulness, his child-like disposition, but we know Michael can bring such drama to the table. The last moments we spend with Frank culminate into a rousing & beautiful moment of clarity for the character.

There are moments when you see a movie for the first time, and have no idea what to feel after seeing it. For me, I knew exactly what to say about this film: cult. “Frank” is going to turn into one of those pass it around types of films. People will learn about it through word of mouth. There will be “Frank” viewing parties, people will be making their own masks, hell, it wouldn’t shock me to see people dress as Frank during Halloween. Take it for what it’s worth, but I loved “Frank”, I loved its awkwardness and sense of goofiness, with the sweet blend of heartfelt wonderment. It’s a movie people will be talking about for ages, that’s what I hope for “Frank”.

GRADE: A-

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