The big night had finally arrived. The European premier of FRANK was on that night at The Light House Cinema in Smithfield, Dublin. Not only was this greatly anticipated, wacky, weirdo film festival favorite about to make it’s big debut, but cast members Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson and director Lenny Abrahamson were all in attendance. Obviously I spent a good deal of time, before arriving on the red carpet, playing out a variety of scenarios in my head one of which Michael Fassbender finally comes to his senses, stops on the red carpet and fleas to me pushing through the crowd and asks me to run away with him back to London. Although I felt this to be a most reasonable fantasy the closest I got to him was when my friend and I were outside and the car bringing him to event pulled up beside us, Fassbender in the passenger seat and wearing shades looked at me and out of absolutely no where a gust of wind sends my skirt flying up in the air! It can’t be denied, that man has got moves!
After settling into our seats and spotting Liam Cunningham, Jim Sheridan, Lisa Hannigan and Louis Walsh among fellow audience members, the lights dimmed and the film started rolling. It opens on Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) in his quiet English neighborhood. To the viewer’s discomfort of bad rhythm and rhyme, he is trying everything to come up with lyrics for a new song. He is after all an aspiring musician, without a band. Fortunately for him, Jon finds himself at the right place at the right time and is swept up into a whirlwind of aggressive band members, unpronounceable band names and endless field recordings of wind and water wooshing. With all of Jon’s effort trying to fit in and trying to be like Frank (Michael Fassbender) his ‘trying’ becomes almost pathetic and as the story progresses, unexpectedly destructive to his band mates. Jon must be vigilant that there can only be one Frank! Frank the musical genius, the mystic guru, the tortured soul.
During the Q&A following the screening, Abrahamson spoke about the backstory of FRANK. He said he drew on Jon Ronson’s (The Men Who Stare at Goats) memoirs and his experiences playing with the musically charismatic, oddball Chris Sievey aka Frank Sidebottom. Fassbender mentioned as well Daniel Johnston and the turbulence that comes with musical genius and mental illness. FRANK is really a spectacle of outstanding performances, excellent music, and wit. It isn’t everyday that I leave the cinema feeling like I just saw something, like I really partook in something original. FRANK is upbeat and full of energy but doesn’t get lost in the fog of it’s own originality. This paper-mâché alter ego stole my heart, and not just the man underneath!
Words: Anna Davies.