REEL TO REAL: FRANK – A WITHERING COMMENTARY ON CONTEMPORARY POP CULTUREREEL TO REAL: FRANK – A WITHERING COMMENTARY ON CONTEMPORARY POP CULTURE
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Written by Jon Ronson & Peter Straughan
Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scott McNairy and Michael Fassbender.
What is music? A business? Yes, certainly but what about art? Of course, but sometimes music is life and there’s nothing more. For Jon (Gleeson), music is the ticket out of his mundanity as he dreams of becoming a professional pop songwriter.
Then rather serendipitously Jon ends up playing keyboards in the experimental outfit Soronprfbs, fronted by the enigmatic Frank (Fassbender) who wears a papier-mâché head 24/7. Despite his seemingly best intentions, Jon attempts to use the Soronprfbs – and especially Frank – to further his own agenda to be a successful musician.
Along the way, manager Don (Scott McNairy) and band colleague Clara (Gyllenhaal) try to dissuade Jon from setting Frank down the road to public acceptance but Jon is undaunted, with predictably disastrous consequences.
Taking inspiration from real life quirky musical geniuses like Captain Beefheart, Daniel Johnston and most of all, Chris Sievey’s Frank Sidebottom persona, Frank is a superbly dark comic take on contemporary pop culture’s need to flatten any unique idiosyncrasy into compliant uniformity.
For everyone who believes that pop music needs to remain strange and magical, this one’s for you.