Film Review: Frank

Michael Fassbender as Frank

Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) is an aspiring but frustrated musician who takes the opportunity to join up-and-coming underground band ‘Soronprfbs’ fronted by their bizarre lead man Frank who permanently wears a large fake head. Will the band make it big and will Jon find out what’s really going on inside Frank’s massive head?

For the unitiated (which is probably most people outside of the UK), Frank Sidebottom was a cult music figure from Timperley, near Manchester, who wore a big paper mache head. Now, despite the name of the film and the massive fake head donned here by Michael Fassbender, Frank isn’t actually about Frank Sidebottom.

What Frank does is use the character of Frank Sidebottom (created and played by Chris Sievey in real life) and use it has a jumping off point, also taking inspiration from a book of the same name by Jon Ronson who played keyboards for Frank Sidebottom and also co-wrote the film’s screenplay.

Right, now all the background is out of the way, what’s the film actually like?

Well it’s bizarre, funny and utterly bonkers. But it’s also oddly poignant and moving, which is something that I really didn’t expect.

Domhnall Gleeson’s Jon is actually the film’s protagonist in the traditional sense of the word, as it’s through his eyes that we see the film and its characters, although he’s by far one of the least interesting characters on show (and turning into a new Hugh Grant more and more each film). That’s no real bad thing as he just provides the stage on which the supporting cast can shine, although it would have been nice to have a lead character with slightly more about him.

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s hipster-bitch Clara is as intriguing as she is frosty, whilst the other characters have smaller but no less entertaining roles. But it’s Frank we’ve come to see and he really is the star of the show.

Frank (2014)

Frank is a real enigma and really is as magnetic and intriguing to us as he is to those around him in the film. He’s funny, caring, volatile, disturbing; you never really know what he’s going to do next, whether it’s topless boxing or dancing in a field with a middle-aged woman he’s only just met. All whilst wearing that massive head.

And what’s even stranger is that we know it’s Michael Fassbender under the head. Despite not showing his face, Fassbender manages to inject huge amounts of personality into Frank, and it’s fantastic to see Fassbender clearly having such fun in the role.

There’s a surprisingly large amount going on in Frank, making it significantly deeper than it perhaps could have been. There’s a healthy dose of humour as you’d expect, but what hit me was how poignant and touching it was. It has a rather dark thread running throughout that occasionally erupts and adds a completely new layer to the film. It manages to strike pretty much the perfect balance between light hearted comedy and a more substantial piece of drama, regularly switching between the two.

Frank is a film that may put off many due to its quirky exterior, but it actually has a tremendous amount of heart and could just catch you by surprise. It’s much, much more than just a guy with a big fake head.

Pros

  • Genuinely funny
  • Surprisingly poignant and deep
  • Michael Fassbender is brilliant as Frank

Cons

  • Domhnall Gleeson feels a little lightweight

4 and a half pigeons

4.5/5 pigeons

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37 thoughts on “Film Review: Frank

  1. Wow. Great review, Chist. I will check it out! Genuinely funny sounds wonderful today. A sign that while Fassbender is a superstar, he is willing to expand beyond his good looks and stretch himself?

    • Thanks Cindy! Well worth your time, this one! It really is very funny and miles away from a lot of the crass comedies out there at the moment. I love that Fassbender has done this film, it’s such a departure from what he’s done recently and I really applaud that.

  2. Lindsey says:

    I’ve never heard of this one, I’ll have to check it out!

  3. Oh my god! I’m dying to see this! Thrilled you think so highly of it, can’t wait for its release :).

  4. Brittani says:

    Great review! I’m looking forward to this one when it finally gets in my area. It seems like it’s something very different for Fassbender.

  5. Abbi says:

    I really enjoyed this. It felt like it was a really heartfelt look at mental illness and its effects not only on the sufferer but also those around them.

  6. Hoping to catch this later in the week and really looking forward to it. Top top review dude; always good to read your stuff. You fully recovered now?

  7. ruth says:

    Seems that Domhnall Gleeson has been churning out great roles lately. Haven’t heard of this one before but sounds interesting.

  8. Laura O says:

    Hurrah! I’m so glad you enjoyed this. I loved it. So clever and mad and funny and yes, full of heart. Love, love, love!

  9. I missed this film when it played Canadian Music Week a few weeks back. Really looking forward to catching it once it hits theatres.

  10. Stu says:

    I’m keen to see this one mate. Nice review. I saw Frank Sidebottom live a couple of times in the early 1990s…wasn’t a massive fan to be honest but I’m intrigued by the film. I think it’s on in my local ‘horn-rimmed glasses and black polo neck jumper’ cinema shortly!!!

    • Cheers pal. Haha yeah it’s definitely one of those kind of films. I was shocked when it turned up at my local Vue! You don’t need to actually like Frank Sidebottom to see this though, it’s literally just the head and name that it shares with him.

  11. Top work Chris. Not as big a fan of Frank as you – I struggled to buy into most of the characters and their situation – but, damn, Fassbender is on form here. My eyes were glued to the screen every time his massive head was on show.

    Adam.

    • Cheers Adam! It’s certainly a bizarre situation and the characters are very odd but it just worked for me. Fassbender really is great. Not being able to see his face clearly really helped him just let go with it.

  12. Ryan says:

    Man, I need to see this one. I’ve only heard great things so far. I like a good drama with some humor infused throughout. Great review!

  13. Mark Walker says:

    Nice one Chris. It’s great to see you rate it so highly. I’m really eager to catch this one. Looks like my kinda film.

  14. Great review, Chris. Very curious about this one. As you say, it’s bonkers, so that’s mainly why I’m attracted to the film. Also, huge fan of Fassbender and Gleeson.

  15. dbmoviesblog says:

    Excellent review. I haven’t seen this one yet, but it is so refreshing to see Fassbender in such a role. I have no doubts the movie is very funny!

  16. Dan says:

    Sounds like a blast. If anyone can pull off a character who is under a mask the entire film then Fassbender’s the man. I’m looking forward to seeing this one.

  17. Sorry I just cant imagine myself even watching this movie it holds zero interest for me

  18. Glad you liked it! Frank fell apart in the third act for me, but I still really loved it. I thought the entire cast was incredible, especially Fassbender. I love the very last song of the film.

    Great review!

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