Chapter Arts Centre
The red room of Chapter was a lovely set up to see this indie film. With its small capacity, the sold out show had a feeling of cosiness which would be more expectant and welcomed of an independent film.
My excitement for this film had been brewing for a while, with my admittant admiration and ‘crush’ on Irish actor and son of acclaimed actor Brendan Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson. After seeing him in films such as Harry Potter, About Time and Anna Karenina, I knew that we would be in for a good performance. The character of Frank played by Michael Fassbender and an appearance from Maggie Gyllenhaal, is also a very welcomed addition.
Frank sees the tale of a average British man (Gleeson) called Jon who lives a normal life in a seaside town, still living with his parents and taking on an office job when really he is wishing for stardom as a musician… however his inspiration and ability to create music is seriously flagging. By chance, he meets this strange and unusual band who take him on as a last minute keyboard player. Jon’s life is soon completely changed, with travels to a remote part of Ireland for over a year to try and create an album of the most strange music you have ever heard. His use of social media transports the band into an online famous identity, bringing the band to Texas where this odd and close band are not accepted in the real world, and who’s relationship is torn apart.
This indie film was everything you wanted from a film with such a strange image in the public – a normal stature of a man with a exaggerated Paper Mache head. It was very comical throughout, with every actor having its moments of this, whether it was from the naivety of Gleeson’s character Jon who was from a suburban ordinary home thrown into this band where each character has its own abnormal past and/or traits to Gyllenhaal’s welcoming face contrasted to her sheer hating and negative personality.
The aesthetics of the film are simple and beautiful. Lovely and tranquil shots of a British seaside suburban town, the lake and rolling hills of the Irish huts they stay in and the vast sun drenched desert of Texas. Not only have the locations been well thought about but the band itself have – 5 Americans who all look pale with dark hair, dark vintage clothes all as if they have all come from a cloning facility. Gleeson’s well acted complete British-ness and bright ginger hair creates this outsider approach for Jon from the band, which highlights the storyline will his lack of acceptance by everyone but Frank.
Fassbender is also incredible. With no way of showing facial expressions, the large head of Frank still somehow manages to convey a range of emotions that the character faces, with Fassbender able to conduct the rest of his visible body in a way that complements this. Even now, this is confusing and admiring as it is uneasy to think how this is at all possible; how can an actor with no facial expressions convey so much and make you laugh, cry and feel for him without this. Eventually we learn of Frank’s unstable mental abilities, and this is transferred in hindsight through the hole film with Gyllenhaal and Gleeson’s character’s torment and fight against one another to look after him in his naive and child like state which at first we misconstrue as a sense of creativity.
Over all, Frank is an amazing film to watch. It is hard to fault as it ticks every box for this such of film – from emotion both positive and negative, beautiful images from the landscape and in the general cinematography, the many many perfect comical moments to the stella performances from each and every actor, Frank is a film to cross off your bucket list.