Based on Chris Sievey’s Frank Sidebottom persona, “Frank” takes a completely new twist and delivers a film that is absurd, fascinating, poignant and funny.
Michael Fassbender fans who appreciate the actor’s handsome face will be disappointed with “Frank”, in which he dons a Frank Sidebottom mask for 99% of the film. Frank Sidebottom fans may also be disappointed, as the film reimagines his story and sets it from Manchester to the United States. The music is also reimagined, though it retains the absurdist spirit of much of Sidebottom’s songs.
Told from the point of view of Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) who joins Frank’s band, the story is based loosely on the adventures of Jon Ronson who in reality did join Frank Sidebottom’s band on a whim in 1987. It wrings real drama from the story, as Frank refuses to remove his mask and takes to describing his facial expressions much to the annoyance of band member Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who has also taken an almost violent dislike to Jon. When the band gets a gig at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, all hell breaks loose.
But the film belongs to Fassbender’s amazing performance in delivering a strong and expressive personality from beneath a cartoonish paper maché head.
The real Sidebottom, Chris Sievey (who previous to his cardboard head persona played pubs and clubs in and around Manchester with his band The Freshies), died of cancer in 2010.
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