MOVIE REVIEW: “Frank” is the single most interesting film of 2014 so far.

I’m at a loss on how to describe the movie “Frank”, it’s not avant-garde, but it’s certainly not conventional in any sense of the word. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, it’s funny, touching, dark, with so much social commentary that it could almost pass as the most entertaining PSA of all time, “Frank” is a movie that will never be replicated in any way, shape or form. It almost plays out like a comedy variant of this year’s Scarlett Johansson masterpiece “Under The Skin” and while I’m not quite as in as much perplexing awe as I was with “Under The Skin”, “Frank” will easily make my top 10 list for 2014.

Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) is an aspiring keyboardist and songwriter who comes across a traveling band in his town short of a keyboardist, he agrees to play for their performance and is struck by a band of characters centered by their lead singer Frank (Michael Fassbender), a strange man wearing a large, fake head all the time. Jon receives a call following the performance asking to become a permanent member of the band at Frank’s request and the rest of the band’s disapproval. Jon accompanies them to Ireland to a remote estate to record their album over the course of over a year.

The character of Frank is one of the most interesting, complex, hilarious, tragic, happy, original character I’ve seen in a film all year. Not only because of his massive fake, paper mache head worn throughout the entire movie, but because of the man underneath it, which speaks truly to Michael Fassbender’s incredible performance. It’s a testament to writing and acting to find that one of the best performances of the year comes from a performance where the actor’s face is never seen, only perceived though his voice and mannerisms do you get the true extent of how this man is, and came to be.

Lenny Abrahamson directs this movie with not only a true passion for all of the characters involved, but with a true understanding of what they’re facing with their album, and with music in general and how it shapes each one of their lives. I found myself wrapped up in the existential crises that each character has to go through at some point in the film and became incredibly attached to the idea that these people are an actual band, not just a collection of actors. At a point, you begin to wonder “Is their music even good?” but what you find is that the actual music involved doesn’t matter as much as the idea and ramifications that the music has on each person in the band, whether or not mainstream audiences would deem it acceptable.

I went into “Frank” with good expectations, I expected a quirky British/Irish indie film and I got that, along with so much more. The characters are so carefully and deeply crafted that each scene progresses with such grace that you begin to feel real emotions for these characters, not the faux “The Fault in Our Stars” manipulation of emotion. This is not a “music” film, nor is it a manipulative “mental health crisis” film, it’s nowhere near that pedestrian of a movie, it’s a collection of little elements from across the board of genres to create a truly unique film experience that can’t be replicated. “Frank” is a reason I love movies as much as I do.

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5/5

Directed by: Lenny Abrahamson
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy, François Civil, Carla Azar and Michael Fassbender.
Runtime: 95 minutes
Rating: R for language and some sexual content.
Available On Demand and iTunes.

Magnolia Pictures, Film4, BFI, and Protagonist Pictures present, in association with Bord Scannán na hÉireann/Irish Film Board, an Element Pictures/Runaway Fridge Films production, a film by Lenny Abrahamson, “Frank”

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