Frank is a film about a mentally ill (and musically gifted) man who wears a papier mache, giant head 24/7. Eccentric movie, to say the least. But hey, I’m on uni holidays, it was $6 movies at the arty cinema nearby, who am I to say no to a film that edges on bizarre and takes ‘dry wit’ to a whole new level?

Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) is an aspiring musician who catches the attention of an alternative band that is passing through his town. When they ask him to join the band and head to Ireland, he thinks it’s for a one off concert. Quickly he finds out that they’re stuck in the middle of nowhere to record their album, and to make matters worse, the lead singer and composer, Frank (Michael Fassbender), wears a giant head, while band member, Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal), openly plans on stabbing him in the near future. Ahhhh, musicians.

This film had both its good and bad qualities. I found Michael Fassbender’s character, Frank, both intriguing and peculiar. Why was he in the head? What does he look like (OK, in reality I knew what Michael Fassbender looked like)? Does he brush his teeth? Unfortunately, most of these questions went unanswered. And this was just a symptom of the larger problem with the plot line. As the audience, we’re taken on this journey with both Frank and Jon, but the ending is dismal to say the least. Nothing really comes of the band, or of Jon for that matter, and we never learn why Frank is the way he is. His parents eventually allude to a ‘mental illness’ but that doesn’t add much to the storyline: there are many people who suffer from mental illnesses, and almost none of them choose to disguise themselves under a 10kg fake head.

However, Fassbender’s and Gleeson’s acting was polished, witty and entertaining, particularly since both roles were comparatively opposite, yet equally difficult. Gyllenhaal’s acting, on the other hand, lacked authenticity and any passion. While I usually don’t mind her as an actress, she mostly does laconic and disinterested well – and I didn’t feel this worked with her character, Clara, who is not mentally ill, but is definitely unstable. While there is a brief period where we are shown a more vulnerable side, her interaction with Jon doesn’t change throughout the film, which seems unlikely considering the amount of time they spend together.

I appreciate films that have an original storyline and a different formula to the blockbusters, sequels and book adaptations that we almost always see on the big screen, but for me, Frank fell a bit short. It had a list of mostly charismatic actors that were let down by a plot line that focused more on being eccentric and less about substance. In short, unless you’re hitting up a cheap movie day and paying less than $10 for a ticket, I’d recommend waiting until it comes out on DVD.


Have you seen Frank? Are you a fan of Michael Fassbender or Maggie Gyllenhaal? Let me know!