I have very vague memories of seeing Frank Sidebottom on TV when I was a kid. In the 80s and early 90s he used to pop up on TV, with his papier-mache head, nasal Northern accent and bizarre songs. These clips should give you a good idea of what I’m talking about…
So when I heard there was a Hollywood film called Frank starring Michael Fassbender, I couldn’t imagine what on earth it’d be like.
Now I’ve seen it I can’t say it’s really any clearer, I mean, I came out of the cinema thinking ‘what the hell was that?’ But in a good way. You know? As usual, I prefer to avoid spoilers, and actually, I think part of the fun of Frank was the not knowing what would happen next, so I won’t deprive you of that.
What I will say though, is that this was a sweet, clever and unique film full of dark humour and real heart. It has charm by the bucket, if that’s the right unit of measurement for charm?. It has an endearingly quirky weirdness about it, in the characters, the story and the execution. Frank is an adorably odd and peculiarly likable film; I can’t recall seeing anything like it before.
It’s true that some of the characters are hard to like, they’re strange people who behave strangely and they live a kind of life that’s not even remotely relatable. Sometimes they’re downright awful. They can be pretentious, po faced and self-important. And yet, Frank himself has so much warmth, so much charisma, he’s so open and forgiving, and has such a refreshing approach to life, he more than makes up for the shortcomings of his friends. He makes you want to keep watching.
Michael Fassbender’s turn as Frank is quite astonishing. I was worried before the film began that I wouldn’t be able to engage with a lead character whose face you never see, but actually, it wasn’t a problem at all. In fact, there were times that I actually forgot about the fake head altogether. Another pleasant surprise was Fassbender’s voice. He can sing!
My only slight grumble, besides the fact some of the characters are so unpleasant, is that it’s sometimes a bit gimmicky with the twitter and YouTube updates but that’s a minor complaint.
Frank is a totally original film with a wonderful central performance. It has a perfect blend of pathos and humour, ranging from the utterly silly to the genuinely moving but it never feels contrived or manipulative. I thoroughly enjoyed Frank and I hope you do too.