Tag: Maggie Gyllenhaal

FRANK

Film & TV, Nostalgia Review, Uncategorized July 31, 2016

Originally published and still available on Post-Modern Sleaze (29/07/16).

There is a moment, at about 12 minutes in, when Don (Scoot McNairy) looks into Domhnall Gleeson‘s eyes and states, “Look, Jon, you’re just gonna have to go with this”, and it’s true, he does. We all do. For FRANK – Lenny Abrahamson‘s ode to near mythical British musician and comedian, Chris Sievey, and his alias, Frank Sidebottom – is a film whose story you are better off accepting then attempting to deconstruct, later.

Penned by Jon Ronson, it is the semi-autobiographical tale of how – aged 20 and the entertainments officer for the Polytechnic of Central London’s student union – he answered a phone call that went a bit like:

Man: “So Frank’s playing tonight and our keyboard player can’t make it and so we’re going to have to cancel unless you know any keyboard players,”

Jon: “I play keyboards,”

Man: “Well you’re in!”

Jon: “But I don’t know any of your songs,”

Man: “Wait a minute… Can you play C, F and G?” [1]

If you have seen the film, you should be privy on this sounding familiar, for this pivotal bit of discourse spurs the start of a more fictional string of events. Here we meet the Soronprfbs, the cinematic equivalent to The Freshies. They are a bunch who take themselves and their art quite seriously; there’s Don (McNairy) the manager (of sorts), and Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who takes severe umbrage at the prospect of inexperienced newbie Jon (Gleeson) joining the troupe on a permanent basis. Guitarist Baroque (Francois Civil) and drummer Nana (Carla Azar) only converse in French.

Oh, and there’s Frank (Michael Fassbender) of course, the singular oddity that – somehow – is the glue that holds the Soronprfbs together. Whilst the film is carried by Gleeson’s naivety (his character is insufferably – yet relatably -#starryeyed), Frank is the real focal point; he persists in wearing a papier maché head 24/7 and none of his band members have seen him without. What would be a cumbersome grievance to many a lesser actor only serves to enhance Fassbender’s skill, for despite only showing his face for approximately ten minutes in the entire film, he manages to convey a full gamut of emotions ranging from ecstatic to frustrated by only using his voice and body language, yet it is in his character’s complex portrayal of mental health that he truly shines.

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