The Right, Wrong Answer
In the movie Frank, we find a blend of insights, presented very quickly and in rapid succession until the viewer finally reaches the finally and, if they were involved, finds something to take away, thankfully in Frank, we find many options.
From the get-go a pale, colorless pallet is washed over the screen, showing how boring our lead, Jon, lives his life. Its meaningless jobs, fruitless attempts at song-writing and his never-ending tweeting that give the audience something to connect with, in short, he is no one. After mental-illness is presented in a subtle yet later recognizable way, Jon is swept into an up-and-coming band that sends him to his “furthest corners”. Shortly after the purposefully-boring start we meet the title character, Frank. He’s odd, he’s sometimes hard to understand, he’s driven by music and emotion but always manages to *ahem* keep his head, even as the rest of the group develops their own conditions.
Intentionally, I will try not to spoil the story or the interactions, that being said, the dynamics that come to light after the band moves into its new home are intriguing, and, in the best possible way, very heartbreaking. The band has true musical inspiration, it is motivated and obviously capable of gaining a following, however, due to the mental condition of the band mates, the sabotage and self-sabotage runs through the bands veins just as deeply as the music itself.
As we near the close of the film, tensions rise and actions become less a game of mental warfare and more a physical struggle, the star of these moments being Frank, played by Michael Fassbender, Frank’s struggle with what he wants, what he has and what he thinks he should and could have is a beautiful picture of a struggling artist, desperate to grow but, deep down, content with the relationships they’ve made and become comfortable with. It’s in the end of the film that Frank’s musical theory is peeled away, scene by scene, leaving only his mental finesse to present itself, the way that happens is far better to view firsthand. After we watch Frank reach his new mental state is when it is easiest to see the height of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s performance. Her instability that we see early on edges on obnoxiously over-performed, however, as the movie changes gears, so does she, creating a reflection of Frank’s emotions through the darkness of her Clara, showing a bond that may have not been clear before. When the emotional bondage is clearest, whether it’s to the music or other people, is when this movie is at its best.
It must be noted, the tones of humor in this film find light at the perfect times. Before the final act of the movie, a desert scene takes place, and, although it starts dark, the comedy that is thrust into that moment is imperative and excellently placed. Jon, the main character finds himself stretched at the end, Frank finds where he belongs and, oddly enough, it wasn’t where I wanted him. As a viewer, I rooted for Jon deep down, hoping for Frank’s change and for musical success, but Frank’s journey wasn’t one that could start and end in a movie, it’s a journey many musicians, artists and people unsure of where they are or where they’re going, can relate to.
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