In its opening sequence of director Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank, the protagonist Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) does something I have never before seen in a film: using voice over narration, we hear this struggling musician attempting to compose music, through absurd and funny lyrics about his surroundings. He’s desperate to write the next big hit but has no immediate ideas, something anyone can relate to and laugh about.
This is the only exceptionally innovative moment in the film. Jon’s interest in music leads him to take desperate measures, and he finds himself joining a bizarre music band led by the titular Frank (Michael Fassbender), who is always wearing a giant mask. The group is interested in making music but have little idea how to do so. About the only thing the group has in common is that they all see Frank as some kind of idol. This has all kinds of consequences, as Frank blurs the line between being the most reasonable one in the group and also being the closest to insanity.
From the premise and the opening scene, it would indicate that this would be a comedic picture, and in my mind, this is where the film has its most success. Especially in the opening, but later on as well, the film delivers some great bits of humor. However, the film also manages to tackle some darker material and ends up being more focused on some really heavy material. When characters delve into stints at mental hospitals and it becomes clear that the people here are not in sane states of mind, the film has something to say about it in a non-joking manner. It’s good that they do not make light of these syndromes, but the juxtaposition of these darker elements interacted with the humor makes it increasingly difficult to laugh at when it goes back to humor. Even for a black comedy, this movie tackles some very serious topics that aren’t truly suited for jokes.
Perhaps the most important thing to know going into the movie is to not expect good music or a soundtrack that you’ll ever want to revisit.
The film could be saved with a great soundtrack, but alas, the music is bizarre and unmemorable. In reality, part of the message of the movie is that the music is not actually worth sharing because this group of people do not have the level of talent (or sanity) that they think they have. Perhaps the most important thing to know going into the movie is to not expect good music or a soundtrack that you’ll ever want to revisit.
Most of the film actually takes place on a farm with just a handful of characters. Some of the side characters get moments to shine, notably Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and Don (Scoot McNairy), but like their characters, they all seem to be revolving around Fassbender (who supposedly never took the head off for the duration of filming). For all parties involved, I don’t see this as being the type of film that has too much impact on their career. It is an entertaining film at times, and the cast is an impressive mix, but for the most part, it does not leave the audience with much to walk away with. However, for what it’s worth, the closing credits are superb.