Frownland (2007)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Frownland Photos

Movie Info

"Frownland" is a pitch-black character study of Keith Sontag, a neurotic, manipulative, stridently unlovable New Yorker whose pitiless roommate aptly describes him, to his face, as "a burbling troll in his underwear." With the most basic elements of human communication a struggle, Keith lurches his way through an uncaring city, attempting to aid a suicidal friend, evict his unctuous roommate, and simply attain some measure of self-respect.
Art House & International , Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Dore Mann
as Keith
Paul Grimstad
as Charles
Carmine Marino
as Carmine
Mary Wall
as Laura
Paul Grant
as Exam-man

Critic Reviews for Frownland

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (8)

We've all known people like this, usually as little as possible, which may explain why the movie has provoked such violent reactions at festival screenings: it brings us face-to-face with the limits of our compassion.

Full Review… | August 8, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Frownland is like a shriek for help. It centers on an extraordinary performance that plays like an unceasing panic attack. To call it uncompromising is to wish for a better word.

Full Review… | August 8, 2008
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Nerve-rackingly funny, director Ronald Bronstein's microbudget indie features a protagonist for whom each attempt at communication turns into a rhapsody of strangulated verbiage.

Full Review… | August 7, 2008
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

It's impossible to watch this grotty, sometimes unbearably undisciplined yet genuinely tragic movie and not think about the first films directed by John Cassavetes and Paul Morrissey.

June 27, 2008
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Frownland, Ronald Bronstein's startling comedy, is like a mumblecore Eraserhead directed by John Cassavetes.

Full Review… | March 12, 2008
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

This is personal cinema at its most uncompromising and fierce.

March 7, 2008
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Frownland


With the horror movie soundtrack I kept waiting for Keith to snap but he never did.A weird but good film

Brody Manson
Brody Manson

Super Reviewer

I give this the highest rating for being what it is without apologies. It is so far from a "Hollywood" movie that many people raised on such fair will have no way to digest it. It is a small slice of the life of a man who is barely functional. Seemingly with a touch of autism and without any family, the main character struggles with his day to day life. He can barely communicate due to his racing thoughts and an inability to express a thought without interrupting himself. He is unpleasant to be around because he is so caught up in being accommodating and desperate to connect with others; he is his own worst enemy. It is this paradox-- that such an unpleasant person to be around is inherently a really good person--that the movie is about. I have seen reviews that call this a dark comedy, but I think that's way off. It's a harrowing story of struggle against yourself. Psychological difficulties are often misunderstood, and this movie shows the lonely life of a person doing the best he can with heavy limitations. The individual uncomfortable moments and quotidian worries throughout this movie in the end reveal an unpleasant truth about how people are marginalized. Mann's performance is so natural and raw that you'll squirm. But if you're able to empathize you'll be rewarded with real insight the life of those with unfortunate circumstances. Not all art is pretty.

Lance Lance
Lance Lance

In "Frownland," Keith(Dore Mann) has been struggling in his job going door to door raising funds for a charity. Some of this might have to do with his shaky relationship with his girlfriend Laura(Mary Wall). For instance, one night she shows up on his doorstep crying. They go to a store and he manipulates her into returning. Things take a turn for the worse when it turns out she is allergic to his pillows and he is impaled on a thumbtack. And I do not care what Laura says but I like the hand puppets which are sadly the highlight of this roughly produced, low budget film that seeks to get into the face of the viewer with its socially inept protagonist. Like some of the characters, I also find Keith annoying, as the movie also soon tires of him, deciding to follow other characters for lengthy periods of time. But then it wanders back to rejoin the pursuit of the payment of an electric bill which is what the movie is all about. Sure, lots of people worry about how they will pay their bills but that should not be their entire life nor a complete motion picture either.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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