Frank

Critics Consensus

Funny, clever, and endearingly unusual, Frank transcends its quirky trappings with a heartfelt -- and surprisingly thought-provoking -- story.

92%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 164

72%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 23,894
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Movie Info

Acclaimed Irish director Lenny Abrahamson follows up his award-winning films Adam & Paul, Garage, and What Richard Did with an offbeat comedy about a young wannabe musician, Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), who finds himself out of his depth when he joins an avant-garde pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank (Michael Fassbender), a musical genius who hides himself inside a large fake head, and his terrifying bandmate Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal). (C) magnolia

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Critic Reviews for Frank

All Critics (164) | Top Critics (37)

Audience Reviews for Frank

  • Jan 16, 2019
    Back to DVDs for the time being, as I already exceeded the limit of my mobile hotspot. This is also one of those movies that I've had for a few years now, like four. Like Zatoichi, thanks to streaming services, I just never got around to it until yesterday. Let's move on, though, shall we? I imagine that creating art that is truly meaningful to its creator(s) is something that's incredibly difficult to do. Then there's people like Nicholas Sparks, who exploits his audience's need for sappy, melodramatic stories like there's no tomorrow. But to create something meaningful, TRULY meaningful. Something that touches millions of people in a deep way, it must be one of the hardest things to do. This is probably gonna go over the heads of a lot of people, particularly those not familiar with Hispanic authors and literature. Juan Rulfo, a Mexican author, wrote Pedro Paramo, a novel and something that could be described as a ghost story. The novel was highly acclaimed and even inspired Gabriel Garcia Marquez, regarded as one of the best authors of the 20th century, to write One Hundred Years of Solutide, which is considered to be Marquez's masterpiece and is regarded, by a lot of people I know who've read it, to be one of the best books they have ever read. Back to Juan Rulfo, however, and that is the point after the acclaim that Pedro Paramo received, he was never able to release another novel as he feared it wouldn't be as good as his most famous work. There's a collection of short stories out there written by Rulfo, but he never wrote another novel. Of course, I'm not comparing the band in this movie and its charismatic and titular leader, Frank, on the same level as Juan Rulfo, but this movie is quite clearly about the creative process and the mad genius that is often required to truly create something that is wonderful, on its own terms, even if no one else BUT your own tight-knit band understands it. This is definitely a bit of a surprising movie, to be sure, because underneath its indie quirk trappings lies a surprisingly thoughtful and intelligent story. And indie quirk is a term that I, honestly, don't know what to think about. I understand when people use it and, more often than not, it's used as a negative. Because it's a movie that tries to be quirky for the sake of it and not because there's a real justifiable reason for it to be this way. And I get it and I don't. Because, to me, if a movie is good, who cares what style it employs to get to the point they want to get??? Just let it be, right? But then, at the same time, I'm someone who has criticized Wes Anderson for, essentially, making the same movie, in relation to style and dialogue, for his entire career. And this is coming from someone who, without exception, has always thought that Wes Anderson makes good films. It's just that I rarely like few of them because of his insistence on using the same style for every film. Even his stop-motion movies feel like Wes Anderson movies. And that's what his fans want, to be fair, but there's no real variety to any of the films he does stylistically and, to me, that makes him a one-note director. Martin Scorsese has made more than just gangster films. Kurosawa made more than just samurai films. And so on and so forth. That's neither here nor there, however. I do think that, given Frank's personality and his mental health issues (it is known from very early on in the film that Frank was in a mental institution), that the quirkiness of Frank wearing a giant fake head over his face is part of who he actually is. Part of what allows him to be the leader of this band and what allows him to be the creative force behind it. The story is fairly straightforward. Jon is this aspiring songwriter, who really ends up writing crap, and after an incident where the band's keyboardist attempts to drown himself, he's asked to join the band. He chronicles his progress all across his social media through posts and videos, all without the band's knowledge, as he ingratiates himself into this band and he tries to prove himself worthy of his inclusion into it, even as he faces resistance from Clara, who could be considered Frank's most trusted lieutenant, as it were. As the film progresses, however, the story becomes more about Clara and Jon's struggles to pull the band in completely opposite direction. I think the way the film frames this story, Jon could be seen as a studio executive attempting to pull a once respected artist into a direction that would lead to more commercial success, tarnishing the integrity of what made the artist (or band in this case) great in the first place. To Jon's credit, however, at first, I really do think that he's truly amazed that someone of Frank's talent isn't more famous and he wants to expose Frank's greatness to the world. As the film progresses, however, I think Jon's intentions become far more selfish. There comes a situation later on in the film where, after Jon has gotten them a gig as South by Southwest, Clara stabs Jon in the leg after Jon manipulates Frank into going on with the show despite the fact that he clearly does not want to and his anxiety is acting up. Clara ends up out of the band and, shortly thereafter, the other two remaining band members end up leaving just before the show is set to take place. Jon and Frank keep the gig, which is now 'unplugged' as a result of there literally being no one else left but Jon and Frank. Of course, the gig ends up going horribly and Frank just sort of has a panic attack and faints. Jon is trying to recreate Frank's band in his image and it just ends up going horribly as you would expect it to. I suppose the feeling is that Jon wants to feel creatively satisfied, in his own way, as his compositions are never used by the band in the recording of their album (that took eleven months), which predated all the events at South by Southwest. Jon is hoping to use Frank as a stepping stone to his own career, in a way, even if he doesn't realize it and even, as I mentioned, if his compositions are a bit shit. Clara, on the other hand, while she is a little rough around the edges and quite angry, seems to be the only one who has Frank's best interests at heart, even if I also believe she still wants to keep the band's integrity intact. But Clara is the only one that tries to protect Frank when he's, basically, forced to do this South by Southwest gig when he's not mentally capable of handling it. And that's another thing, the film explores mental health issues (which Don clearly suffered from, if it wasn't obvious) in a really positive way. Frank isn't ostracized nor is he mocked for his issues. Frank himself is a really interesting character, because there's nothing really in his past that made him the way he is. He was just born with several mental health issues and his mask wearing dates back to him being fourteen. This was his only way to cope with he world and I like the fact that the movie didn't go to either extreme of the spectrum. They didn't make him a mockery or someone to fear, but they didn't make him a muppet either. He's a compelling character that you're immediately drawn to as, you imagine, everyone else in the band was when they first met him. The writing is strong, the acting is excellent and the songs are really quite good. More experimental in nature than what most people would expect from a film centered around music, but I still really liked it. And another thing is that the ending isn't this stereotypical, Frank reunites with the band and they have this big moment performing their largest gig in front of an adoring crowd. No, Frank reunites (finally without mask) with his band mates and they improv this song in this rundown bar, with no one (but Jon) there and those who are there (again, outside of Jon) aren't even paying attention. And yet it still works. That's the ending these characters deserve, because they were never in it for the fame or the fans, they were in it because they really, truly, believed in the music if they were creating. Even if they were the only ones in the world who liked it. In the long run, I really fucking liked this movie. I don't think I'd say it was great, but it falls just slightly short of that. I just liked pretty much everything about it. It's got a thoughtful story, a sense of humor, excellent cast and great music. I would, quite easily, give this a recommendation even if the quirk at the beginning might be too much for some people. Stick with it and this movie will reward you.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Oct 11, 2015
    Fassbender should be praised for the intelligent way that he composes a whole fascinating character whose face we can't see, in an insightful film that is so well balanced between comedy and drama, with eccentric characters and an astute understanding of our need to be loved.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 13, 2015
    Surrounded by believable performances, a great story, and characters that you will not want to look away from, "Frank" is an immersive little indie film that is not easy to resist. Domnhall Gleeson leads this wacky picture, as he is recruited by a band who makes terrible music, as they are in their mindset of making their first album. Going off to a secluded cabin to record, many new group memebers are met. Namely, Frank, a man who refuses to take off this weirdly shaped mask, and the story that unfolds to that story is not all that surprising, but more appreciative. I loved every minute of this film, from it's great cinematography to the fact that the terrible music they played through the film could be passed as decent. Although I think the film ends on an easy note, it is the best way to quietly end the film. This picture is the perfect length for the story it is trying to convey, and it is a very easy watch. I highly recommend "Frank," it's terrific.
    KJ P Super Reviewer
  • Jul 07, 2015
    Frank isn't just the lead character, the very film itself is Frank. It's not an easy film to love but it's certainly one to admire.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer

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