Wednesday, 17 September 2014


Out on DVD and Blu-ray now, and has been for a while but I’ve been quite lazy and haven’t written anything down, is Frank. Frank is the fictional story of a real fictional character (Frank Sidebottom), by a real guy (Chris Sievey), that has nothing to do with what happened. Jon Ronson, who was there to see all the events of the film unfold not exactly the way they do on screen, wrote the screenplay. Frank stars Michael Fassbender as Frank, Domhnall Gleeson as Jon with Maggie Gyllenhaal as Clara, the insane members of a band called ‘Soronprfbs’, and is directed by Lenny Abrahamson.

The film follows Jon, a musician struggling for inspiration who runs into a band on the beach while their keyboardist is going mental in the sea. Ultimately this leads to Jon being asked to play keyboard for Frank, a man wearing a massive papier-mâché face and front man of ‘Soronprfbs’. The band has an intense creative process and they create music so personal, ingenious and creative that it becomes ludicrously unenjoyable for the masses. Not to say it isn’t good, it’s just too intelligent. Imagine the difference between an interesting tweet about how cold it is outside and attending a five-hour lecture on quantum mechanical zero-point energy.

The film is absolutely outstanding, intense and engrossing. Maggie Gyllenhaal is so good at portraying Clara as a love-struck but mental sadist that I went home to cathartically watch her die in the Dark Knight. Domnhall is incredibly talented, with comic timing to envy, making Jon loveable and charming. Ultimately Fassbender’s performance is the most memorable, he manages to force you to worship Frank with every word he speaks like a honey for the ears. You could almost forget he has a face beneath his massive over grown head, so perfect is his embodiment of Frank.

Frank’s character is a brilliant depiction of musicians who love creating and don’t necessarily get accepted by the masses such as Captain Beefheart and Daniel Johnsson. People this creative are often repulsed by anything they’ve ever heard or seen before and can be erratic and unpredictable, I know this because I’ve had to live with one for 20 years. That’s a song, by my mental/genius brother, about a cat meeting Richey Edwards from the Manic Street Preachers in Perth before being brutally murdered by him. I don’t know if it means something or if there is a particular hatred or disturbing love for cats or Richey Edwards but it is what it is.

Jon Ronson has said that the character of Frank was written to be fictitious due to reservations about portraying Chris Sievey (the real life fictitious Frank) as he actually was versus how he viewed himself and to avoid any offence or disrespect. I’d like to think Chris, who passed away in 2010, would have appreciated the film as much as many other people have, but I can’t say to know how or what he thought about how his friends struggled with him eccentricities for most of their lives. Jon Ronson has also released a new book entitled Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie.

Frank is an absolutely outstanding achievement of cinema and documenting something that didn’t actually occur, 5/5.


Dave Roberts

Frank at CeX

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