|'there's a searing streak here of Rock-myth depiction and destruction that highlights the intelligence behind the film'|
It should probably be considered a level of hindrance to his acting ability that Michael Fassbender spends a vast part of Frank with an extremely large fake head affixed to his bonce. The problem with that being presented as an excuse for his performance is that it doesn't seem to affect him one bit. By necessity, there is a greater level of physicality in Fassbender's Frank than other recent turns but by and large this is still a great piece of acting by one of this generations great actors. The few scenes Fassbender gets at the end of the film are as good as anything anywhere else this year.
The rest of Lenny Abrahamson's film feels a little bit of a mixed bag. Incredibly wet protagonist Jon (Domhnall Gleeson, who is still failing to convince me) is incessantly annoying to be around and by the end becomes fully hateful. The script for Frank was penned by Jon Ronson, based on some of his own experiences and you do wonder if he hasn't taken the catharsis element a little too far. Jon (character) feels almost like a veritable walking piece of guilt relief for Jon (writer), and anything from the US-based third act focuses too much on that and not enough on what makes the rest of the film great.
A lot of what does make Frank occasionally great is cast-based, but there's a searing streak here of Rock-myth depiction and destruction that highlights the intelligence behind the film. An almost Norse-esque scene mid-way through is the clearest marker of where we are and what we're talking about but there are subtler hints too. The old adage that an album recording can be attritional gets new meaning here, as the band hide out in a dreary Irish cabin whilst Frank makes them perfect bird sounds for an album track. The much discussed sex and drugs to go with the Rock'n'Roll come in the form of the un-sexiest sex scene ever and the rationing of any form of sustenance, drugs or otherwise, due to extreme poverty. Breaking America couldn't be more underwhelming. Myths of instant Rock success: consider yourself told.
Supporting Fassbender and Gleeson in amongst this are brilliant efforts by Maggie Gyllenhaal, as a surly, silent band member who just might understand Frank better than anyone and Scoot McNairy as a troubled, pensive manager and former keyboard player. Both add something more to Frank that could so easily have been lacking with straighter turns, but the Drama overall nosedives in the final act, before we get treated to fifteen minutes of genius from Fassbender.