“Stale beer. Fat fucked, smoked out. Cowpoked. Sequined mountain ladies. I love your wall. Put your arms around me. Fiddly digits, itchy britches. I love you all.”
Whenever I hear of a movie about a band I think of movies such as Walk Hard, Almost Famous, Walk the Line, or This is Spinal Tap. Two of those movies are parodies, one of them is a drama, and one of them is an actual dramatic biopic. Now I have a new movie that comes to mind and that movie is Frank. It too is a parody of sorts but is also serious and a bit thought provoking.
Jon is a young guy who dreams of being a famous musician. He tries very hard to write and record songs with his keyboard. As he is walking home one day he sees a guy being chased by the police into the ocean as they try to stop him from killing himself. Jon recognizes the band and that they are in need of a keyboard player. The manager Don has Jon come to their gig and be their keyboard player for the night.
The band’s lead singer is a guy named Frank (Michael Fassbender) who wears a huge papier-mâché mask. No one knows what Frank actually looks like. All they know is that is a musical genius with some mental problems. Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is the sound mixer and she does not like Jon at all. Frank really likes Jon though and invites him to be a full-time band member.
Soon the entire band heads away to the some remote place to record their new album. It takes forever for them to get together and agree on the right sound. Jon believes that Frank wears the mask because of something traumatic in his childhood and that his musical talent also stems from that one traumatic event. The work is torturous for Don who feels talentless compared to Frank. Don’s depression gets the best of him and he kills himself.
All the while Jon has been filming and uploading videos of the band’s recording sessions and updating his social media pages about working with them. The videos have become somewhat of a success and they are invited to play at South by Southwest Festival. Clara is not happy with Jon at all and neither are the bass player and drummer. Clara is worried that the promise of fame and notoriety for their music will go to Frank’s head and he will not be able to take them not being known by anyone. Her fears are somewhat confirmed when they get to the event and no one really knows who they are besides two girls who work there.
Things happen, the band leaves Jon and Frank, and they are forced to perform as a duo with “likeable music” and the band’s usual weird experimental stuff. Frank falls apart on stage and they never get to perform. Sometime later Frank runs away and gets hit by a car. His mask shatters yet he gets up and is not seen again. Jon tries in vain to look for Frank and apologize. He tracks Frank down to his parent’s house in Kansas. Frank’s parents explain that he never had any problems during his childhood especially traumatic ones. Jon sees that Frank is just a mentally ill guy who is also a musical genius.
Jon takes Frank without the mask to a bar that Clara and the others have been working at as the in house band. They do not recognize Frank, who has scars and bald spots from the mask, until he begins to sing.
I thought Frank was really good. The story was completely different. The story felt like it took itself seriously but totally serious. I think a lot of the story having that feeling is down to the actors. Michael Fassbender as Frank was brilliant. The guy is such a fantastic actor that is was great seeing him in a role like Frank. It may just be his silliest, deepest role I have seen him in. Maggie Gyllenhaal is not a great actress at all but you can see where her character is kind of a parody and kind of serious. What I liked story wise was how Jon had the ambition to be famous and wanted this band that he was in to be famous but the others did not want that. They were artistic and wanted to remain that way they did not want to create likable music for the masses they wanted to create their own unique kind of music. He did not realize that until the end when Frank had a break down over trying to create something that was not him. It is a sad truth about music and even movies. So many musicians and directors/writers want to create their own thing but really cannot because of the industries wanting to have their artists and talent make things to cater to the masses to make money and be popular.
Frank is available to view on Netflix and is also available on DVD. It is definitely worth watching.