Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
As a cult musician permanently encased in a giant plastic head, Michael Fassbender gives an amazingly effective performance in this weirdly celebratory satire. As obstinately uncommercial as their name is unpronounceable, art rock band The Soronprfbs are evolving in their own universe. Enter their nemesis, the impressionable, fame-obsessed and minimally talented Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) who steps in to replace their suicidal keyboard player, then dedicates his Twitter account to ending their obscurity. Earning the instant enmity of theremin virtuoso Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Jon works on opening up the band’s enigmatic, avowedly brilliant leader Frank (Fassbender).
Traversing their journey from a fractious creative retreat in a cabin in the Irish woods to an ill-starred guest spot in Austin, Texas, Irish director Lenny Abrahamson spins absurdist comedy out of their avant garde bravado, but ultimately evinces real tenderness for his fragile artist heroes. Too improbable to be entirely made up, the tale is loosely inspired by co-screenwriter Jon Ronson’s adventures as a sideman with Frank Sidebottom, late British comedian Chris Sievey’s musical alter ago. — BG
“An off-the-wall and terrific paean to the misfits and freaks of the world, their dreams, visions and togetherness… Comedy is the MVP in Frank, coming in so many laugh-out-loud little flavors and shades… Frank vividly captures the complex, often tense and straining push-and-pull dynamics of musical collaboration between four or more people.” — Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist