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British small town wannabe musician Jon stumbles into the band Soronprfbs, led by the charismatic and ingenious FRANK, who never takes his artificial head off. Soon Jon finds himself on a collision course with the excentric members of the Band.


The late Chris Sivey aka Frank Sidebottom was the singer of the punk band The Freshies before he turned into a strange mixture of musical clown and cruise ship comic. As Frank Sidebottom, Sivey put on a huge papier maché head and served as the inspiration for Lenny Abramson’s film FRANK, though the Sivey/Sidebottom figure is a completely different type of guy. Frank, played by Michael Fassbender, has the slightly stunned looking head on him at all times, even under the shower. Frank is an outsider musician. Like Don Glen Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart, Frank takes his band to an isolated cabin for a year-long rehearsal for an album that might never be finished. Like the mentally unstable songwriter Daniel Johnston, Frank seems to fluctuate between exuberant enthusiasm, fierce creativity, and massive attacks of paranoia and depression.

The harmless, young amateur musician Jon (Domhnall Gleason) stumbles into Frank’s world as he tries to fulfill his pie in the sky rock star dream. He happens to stand next to Don, the manager of Frank’s band Soronprfbs, when the keyboarder tries to drown himself in the sea. Jon is hired then and there since the band needs a new keyboarder. He becomes part of a catastrophic gig that ends in the middle of the first song when the energetic synth and theremin player Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) begins beating up drummer Nana (Carla Azar). Frank insists on taking the new member to their recording session. Jon finds himself in the middle of a strange group of people who seem completely dysfunctional but his arrogance, causing him to wholly misjudge his talent, makes him stay.

FRANK is a comedy. There is slapstick and there’s entertaining conflict between Jon the average guy and the off-beat members of the band. Frank, despite the head, seems to be the most normal one at first. He is disarming, lovable, and spontaneous but is relentless when it comes to the music. He seems like a magical figure, a wizard from an indie pop fairyland who has everyone wrapped around his little finger. Michael Fassbender obviously has a great deal of fun in the role, perhaps because the acting is reduced to his body language and voice.

FRANK is a film about how a well-behaved talentless idiot can endanger a fragile figure who can only create his art because of his fragility. The music itself is also not bad, a mix of Beefheart inspired lyrics with the quirky indie thrashing and noise that sounds like something between Broken Social Scene and Sonic Youth.


Translation: Elinor Lewy


Irland/Großbritannien 2013, 95 min
Genre: Comedy
Director: Leonard Abrahamson
Author: Peter Straughan, Jon Ronson
DOP: James Mather
Montage: Nathan Nugent
Music: Stephen Rennicks
Distributor: Weltkino Filmverleih
Cast: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tess Harper, Michael Fassbender, Scoot McNairy, Domhnall Gleeson, Hayley Derryberry
FSK: 12
Release: 27.08.2015


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