SXSW 2014: ‘Frank’ takes an odd ball look at the depths of bohemia

Frank
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Written by Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan

Late in the movie, Frank (Michael Fassbender), the eponymous musician, exclaims in an attempt to be accepted that he’s made his “most likeable song” yet. Frank explores with eccentric, odd ball delight the personal sources of creativity, authenticity, art, music, happiness, and mental illness. Frank is a fun film that looks beyond the obvious gags to get to the heart of not only musicians but all aspiring dreamers, creatives or not, along with heavy realities.

Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) is an office drone who hopelessly wishes to be a musician. He wishes to tap into his version of some ephemeral creative well but can’t seem to. At one point, he envies those with some sort of tragic childhood, disorder, or hardship of which they have to inspire creative greatness. His perspective on creativity is warped and desperate, but many can relate to his failed attempts at expression. After their keyboardist attempted suicide, the eccentric and experimental band Soronprfbs asks Jon to join them. The band consists of Frank who wears a large paper-mache head, Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) a violent theremin player, a pair of French twins, and Don (Scoot MacNairy) the agalmatophiliac manager. They retreat into the woods and spend a year making music.

Along the way and in between the various bohemian antics, the film takes a genuine look at the nature of artistic (and self) compromise, happiness, insecurities, and acceptance. The irreverent characters are memorable and the humor and heart balance well to create an batty delight about the avant-garde (or lack of) in all of us.

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