Bored with his dull suburban life, aspiring songwriter Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) stumbles upon a grand opportunity when an experimental indie band, Soronprfbs, is in sudden need of a keyboardist. Though the gig does not go particularly well, Jon earns the attention of Soronprfbs’ masked frontman, Frank (Michael Fassbender). Jon is invited to join the band, much to the chagrin of Frank’s girlfriend and band theremin-player (thereminist?), Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal).
As a film, Frank serves almost as an inside look as a achieving art, or perhaps more of the perception of becoming of artist. Throughout the quirks is a story of anguish and expression, with Jon as an apt creative everyman. This is a story of fame versus respect, combined with the internet celebrity zeitgeist – wrapped up in a musical shell. From Jon’s perspective, his venture with Soronprfbs is not unlike a trip to Oz – even with the ending, but I won’t spoil anything.
Pretty much everything. I’m thinking about getting the soundtrack, even.
…I’ve got nothing. Maybe the use of social networking will age terribly in the next few years, but that’s about it.
It goes without saying that Michael Fassbender is fantastic (as if that’s a surprise anyway); his performance as Frank is wrought with sincerity and a sort of delicate tact. Really the whole ensemble works wonderfully – I really just enjoyed watching them play together and jam.
In this delicious little existential sci-fi, Scarlett Johansson is an alluring creature who preys on unsuspecting males. After making an attempt on a kindly, deformed bystander, our protagonist is compelled to take a journey of self-discovery, despite unsavory consequences. I suppose I should warn you with a spoilers sticker, but considering the visual heaviness of the feature, I really don’t feel as if you’ll be missing out on much by spoiling the story.
Essentially we’re dealing with a film that is pretty much completely visual, only occasionally complimented by non-diegetic sound and a sprinkle of dialogue (when it helps). We’re given scenes that are beautifully shot and composed, ultimately providing a tantalizing, often haunting experience, stringing together themes of loneliness and longing – predator and prey.
Personally, I enjoyed the clear disconnect between viewer and protagonist, after all, she is an alien. But when she attempts to discover herself as a person, that’s where I got kind of pulled out of the story. There’s a certain charm and awkwardness involved…mostly awkwardness – but isn’t that what being human is all about?
Well, in unnamed protagonist’s case, it’s actually a step back, which was kind of surprising. (Her awkward discoveries keep her from being a person, that is.) More so, it seemed as if some of the transformational bits were fairly forced, making her story become clunkier as it went on.
Or maybe I just wanted more scenes of skin being sucked off of peoples’ bodies. Hard to say.
This film is definitely something to experience, but I couldn’t help but feel that it was hindered by the need for a paradigm shift. The protagonist’s desire for identity leaves the audience drifting off with her…maybe I’m just jaded but it eventually felt incredibly try-hard, but the finale left time for pondering and reflection. On the whole, I dug it, but I could definitely see many-a-disappointed film-goer.
Final Grade: B