He's heading for the top!
Frank Sidebottom was the comic persona of Christopher Mark Sievey, an English musician and comedian most regarded for fronting the late 1970's band, The Freshies.


1982 kind of saw the band's days draw to an end but in 1984, the days of Sidebottom came about.

We may never know and understand why Sievey decided to wear a papier-mâché mask and, in a high pitched nasal voice, sing about Monopoly and football but it can make one hell of a tale to tell to future generations, sort of.
And whilst Adam & Paul director, Lenny Abrahamson's new indie Frank has it's similarities; the name, the mâché head and Jon Ronson's script loosely based on Sidebottom's Oh Blimey Big Band, it is its own unique story and drives the plot into areas beyond biography in a classy, weird and wonderful manner so don't expect to walk into the cinema on the film's opening night expecting a biopic of Sievey's creation.

It's far from that.

The film follows Dominhall Gleeson's Jon, a wannabe musician, who dreams of making it big in the music industry. But whilst his work remains below substantial or worthy enough to get him anywhere, he finds himself in the right place at the right time when an offbeat and unconventional band (The Soronprfbs), led by the rambling, raging, papier-mâché head wearing Frank (Michael Fassbender), need him to fill in at a gig. Jon then realises that he's bitten off more than he can chew and that keeping up with this oddball crew, and it's frontrunner, is going to have its difficulties.

It's a rock n' roll film, much atypical than your usual rock n' roll film. 

The title is rather comical and it gives off an almost cartoon-ish vibe. Fassbender's titular character is no different. Yet, the movie is so real and grounded. Abrahamson constantly refers to Twitter and Youtube! During the film, Jon's tweets appear on screen and this adds a sense of poignancy and realism to the whole thing. Then we have the papier-mâché head of Frank's that never seems to come, not once during the whole film. Not even in the shower.
It's an absurd and bizarre contrast that is rather innovative and works well to make a compelling picture.

The fixed head is somewhat sinister and creepy though with it's fixed smile and wide eyes. Let's just remember that there is a lonely, unstable man beneath it.

The man beneath it is, of course, played by an A-list actor.
Fassbender's faceless performance is one of vastity and whilst he remains hidden for the vast majority of the film, there is something brilliant to knowing that someone of his talents is tucked away under the mâché head. Although, keeping him away for nearly the entire run time may cause some commotion and distress but if you can look to the positive side of it then it is entertaining and his enigmatic  character steals the show.
He excels in this role.

Gleeson is also to be commended for he really embraces the lead role, performing well and with great naïveté and portraying Jon as a charming and likeable guy.
His performance is ace.

One of the film's larger and more recurring themes would be mental health. It's quite a distressed topic and to be able to handle it in a humorous and profound manner is a real challenge and one that the filmmaker's achieve well.
It also suggests that Frank is more than just a whimsy, capricious comedy and the prosaic, emotional final third of the film switches tone, to see Frank pacing the topping point from obsession to insanity, and whilst not as humorous as before, it remains strong and Ronson and Abrahamson keep their cool to offer a perfectly judged and quietly moving finale that provides a really potent meaning to everything that came prior.

It is a gloriously ingenious film and it's laugh-out loud funny that will keep everyone laughing - and let's not forget the killer music that is played live by the cast, with some Fassbender singing to compliment it. It's a strange but thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining piece of cinema. 

VERDICT:
Frank is delightful; weird, wonderful, abstract and hilarious. It's a film brimming with ingenuity and it's the most fun you'll have at the movies this year. 
★★★★



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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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