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Frank Movie Review

Title: Frank

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Starring Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhall, Scoot McNairy.

Take two gingery Brits whose talent is exceptional, a couple of gifted American actors and make them deliver, through music, society’s paranoias, what you get is a flick that is charming in its peculiarity.

Irish director Lenny Abrahamson is accustomed to using misfits to analyse contemporary malaise, through dark comedy. In his first film, ‘Adam & Paul,’ a pair of heroin addicts made their way around Dublin in search of a fix, whilst his latter ‘What Richard Did’ fictionalised the assault on Brian Murphy, outside the Burlington Hotel in Dublin in 2000.

Also ‘Frank,’ is populated by troubled characters. The story follows Jon, a young man with a strong interest in music, as he joins an eccentric band called “Soronprfbs,” led by the title character Frank, who always wears a papier-mâché head. The band moves to Ireland to record an album, where Jon begins posting videos on the internet of the band’s rehearsal sessions, as they aim to appear at the South by Southwest festival.

The film, written by Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan, was based on Ronson’s experiences playing in the Sievey’s “Oh Blimey Big Band.” The tenderly enigmatic Frank character combines elements of Daniel Johnston with Captain Beefheart, and was largely inspired by Frank Sidebottom, i.e. Chris Sievey, the English musician-comedian known for fronting the band “The Freshies,” in the late 1970s and early 1980s, who made himself recognisable by his large spheroidal head, styled like an early  Max Fleischer cartoon.

Michael Fassbender’s fans will be distraught in not seeing his pretty face for the entire movie, but will furthermore appreciate is extraordinary acting skills. Domhnall Gleeson, who seems to be taking his place in the stardom of sexy-talented-redheads-from-the-other-side-of-the-pond proves once again to be an intense and masterly performer. Maggie Gyllenhall and Scoot McNairy are the icing on the cake in the depiction of looney dropouts, who embark on the existential journey from Ireland to Austin, Texas.

The melancholic mood, blended with the road-trip pace, gives a chimerical allure to this movie. Audiences will put on their thinking-caps, hopefully only metaphorically, unlike Frank.

Technical: B

Acting: A

Story: B

Overall: B+

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

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Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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