COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 38min
STARRING: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Loony tunes: Fassbender
A discouraging number of actors could sometimes use a thoughtfully placed paper bag. Michael Fassbender is not one of them. Yet as queer fish Frank, the nexus of off-the-wall indie band The Soronprfbs, he spends the movie with his patrician features encased in a bulbous, papier-mâché, Frank Sidebottom–style bonce.
The head’s blank blue eyes and parted lips are waxily off in the manner of an alien life form, and in certain, unsettling lights, its disproportionate size makes Fassbender seem even skinnier than he already is. It’s a look as deranged as the alterna-activities of the out-there ensemble (Gyllenhaal is Frank’s belligerent wingwoman), observed through the wide-eyed gaze of ring-in keyboard player and talentless wannabe songwriter Jon Burroughs (Gleeson). Though initially insecure, Jon’s dreams of fame come with big, misplaced plans for the square-peg band.
A million, daring miles from the crowd-pulling tentpole circuit, Frank is a bittersweet puzzle you never fully solve. Lenny Abrahamson’s direction starts out fancifully strange, swings through free-wheeling lunacy, then finally settles, its wings sorely clipped, into poignant applause for fragility and difference.