Frank-ly the Most Unique Film of 2014 (w/video)

And for something totally unexpected.

 Frank, an Irish “black” comedy released earlier this year, is making a second wave of interest now that it has been released digitally and making the art-house circuit in the States.

Quite simply, I have yet to see see a film that incorporates social media into its storyline so effectively. Social media is used to track the development, rise and eventual downfall of a group of hapless musicians that is funny, tragic, completely believable and honest, all at once.

The filmmakers have an impressive resume, which include director Lenny Abrahamson (What Richard Did) and writer Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare At Goats).

But great behind the scenes work alone never makes for a great independent film. The cast is superb, which is led by Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley from the Harry Potter film series), Michael Fassbender (the young Magneto character in the X-Men films) and Maggie Gyllenhaal (Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight) as Clara, the bitchy, dour girlfriend of the titular character and the band’s theremin player. Yes, theremin player.

Basically, the film goes something like this: Gleeson, a struggling musician, happens upon a man attempting to commit suicide by drowning himself. The man dragged out of the water is the keyboardist for an art-rock group. That evening, Gleeson then fills in for the water-logged man and thus starts a year and a half of the most bizarre circumstances that culminate in a truly heartbreaking ending halfway across the globe.

Oh, forgot to mention: Fassbender’s character, Frank, wears a deadmau5-like head which he never takes off. In fact, no one, not even the band’s manager, has seen Frank without the head.

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The film also gets major points for its original soundtrack, which comes across as a mix of Captain Beefheart, Syd Barret, Can, Neu! and even some of the more off-kilter Doors. It underpins the film amazingly without ever becoming a rockumentary. The funny thing is, by the end of the feature, we realize it isn’t really the music that binds the ties these individuals have.

Everything about this film borrows liberally borrows from film (This is Spinal Tap of course immediately comes to mind) and pop culture icons (Prince during his unpronounceable “symbol” phase), but offers such a fresh perspective you just cannot wait to see the train wreck coming. And when it does, believe me, you will be just dumbstruck about how the cast and creators make you feel truly empathetic towards the plight of those involved.

 Love to you all.

Ben Bear

Clip courtesy of Magnolia Films.

originally published on 14 December 2014

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