Frank features a poster which depicts a giant cartoon head. Now some people who haven’t seen the trailer might assume that it’s just there for the point of advertising, or there’s an animated sequence in the film, but no, the title character of the film is a man who dresses up in a cartoon head. That seems in of itself a crazy concept, but it fits with the rest of the film, which goes from being a quirky dark comedy to basically being down right serious and realistic at the end. In short, Frank is a gem that I can recommend to just about anyone, unless men wearing cartoon faces and crazy antics isn’t your idea of a good time.
Frank tells the story of Jon Burroughs (played by Domnhall Gleason) who is surprisingly likeable and later in the film even works perfect as a jackass when he lets fame get to his head. Burroughs is a young wanna-be musician from Ireland who meets a traveling band. The band is led by Frank played by Michael Fassbender a mysterious cartoon wearing headman. Jon eventually learns that he’s gotten himself into more than he can handle by joining this band.
Frank is at its heart a black comedy that eventually evolves into a cross country road-trip film, and then even becomes serious by the end. It’s nonetheless a hilarious movie to watch. The script by Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan is very clever and includes some memorable dialogue. Although Frank is not the main character of the film (despite the title being named after him), by having his antics be center stage of the film, it makes for interesting and hilarious situations. Frank himself is an interesting character, a man who received a cartoon mask as a teenager and wouldn’t take it off, instead preferring to conceal his true face and identity. As the main character, Jon has an interesting character arc in the film himself, going an aspiring almost weak songwriter who can’t seem to finish or write any memorable songs, to letting fame get to him, and eventually becoming extremely unlikeable as a person.
The rest of the band, which makes up the bulk of the major characters in the film are also interesting. You have Maggie Gyllenhaal as Clara, the aggressive chick of the group, who rarely has anything nice to say (at least until the end of the film), and has absolutely little regard for Jon as a person. Gyllenhaal is even very sexy in some of her scenes. There’s Scoot McNairy as Don, the bands’ manager who eventually commits suicide with a Frank mask on and in a rather comical and dark scene they place his body on a boat with flames into the river (basically being his grave) until a slight problem occurs, and ruins the moment for them. Francois Civil as Baraque the French bassist (he literally only speaks French throughout the film) and Carla Azar as Nana, the band’s drummer, make up the rest of the cast. Both characters, Baraque and Nana, also show little empathy for Jon. These characters are basically a group of misfits with their own quirks and problems.
Although I had issues with another movie that started out as a quirky comedy, that being Michel Gondry’s Mood Indigo, Frank’s tonal shift at the end didn’t bother me as much as that film did, because in addition to a much weirder and more surrealistic film, Mood Indigo still kept its crazy tone, even at the funeral sequences. In comparison, Frank, became down to earth and less quirky, which I appreciated.
None of the songs in Frank are especially memorable, which is the point of the film, as Jon sees himself as an amazing lyricist, when the best thing he can come up with is repeating the same sound over and over. The actual actors performed in the band, which isn’t surprising given that the songs aren’t really performed all that memorably to begin with.
Frank is definitely not a movie made with the general audience in mind. I appreciate the film for that, though as its crazy concept, along with the antics, made me laughing and smiling until the last act. Even the tonal shift of the film didn’t bother me that much. Frank’s black comedy aspect is something I very much appreciate about the film. Frank, is overall an enjoyable movie, and I would recommend it to anyone, but be warned, you may not get the concept. Yes, it’s that weird of a film and I liked it a lot because of that.