Review: Frank (2014)

Everything about this is wonderful.

Beyond the sharp writing, interesting performances, beautiful photography and quirky premise, there’s the music. Not only is the music good, it’s right. Usually, movies about fictional musicians feature music which just doesn’t match up to what the movie tells us they should sound like. We’re kind of forced to accept that, ok, it’s this movie’s version of “good”, that the film makers may not have equivalent knowledge about or taste in music, and suspend musical disbelief. Frank is the rare film that actually nails it.

I don’t know how much of it has to do with the cast (including Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson) learning to play as a band in real life, or that said band features drummer Carla Azar, whose bonafides are the real-world equivalent of the world in Frank. The songs are just the right kind of off-kilter, produced with just the right sound and edge, and their production process is genuine and full of lessons for non-musicians and, most interestingly, wannabe-musicians alike.

I’d believe this is based on a true story – or a few. And while its title character could be caricature or painfully accurate portrait of any number of eccentric, personality-disordered, rock frontmen or artistic cult figures, the film shrewdly chooses to tell the story from the point of view of Gleeson’s Jon, the more painfully ordinary musician who joins Frank’s band – and the kind of musician who dreams of being like Frank, knows he never will be, and makes all kinds of choices in his desperate attempts to live the dream nonetheless.

And while, yes, it’s remarkable that this film hides the handsome face of its big-name, sex-symbol star, that’s merely one of a number of remarkable elements that go into making Frank the wonderful film that it is.