A band is like a family and every family has its quirks. Some don’t clean up, others lack communication, and occasionally, they wear a mask over their face and force you to live in a cabin for close to a year in order to find the perfect tune for your new album.
Frank, the latest film from director Lenny Abrahamson, is about family and the problems that arise when people who don’t necessarily get along are forced to work together in a creative climate that is also slightly toxic. The film begins with Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), an aspiring keyboardist and songwriter, who happens to be at the right place at the right time when the keyboardist for The Soronphrbs is going nuts on the beach and is hospitalized.
Jon witnesses the event as band manager Don (Scoot McNairy) approaches him and starts to chat about why they are in this situation. The encounter leads to Jon jumping in for the band and playing keyboard, and later on has him in a van and heading to the wilderness where the band, led by Frank (Michael Fassbender), is going to focus and figure out their next album.
Frank is a little peculiar, the fake head is probably the most normal thing he has, but also a musical genius who is revered by the rest of the band that includes the eclectic Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal).
Frank is a film about a band and the creative process that goes into creating music and gaining popularity while still keeping a grasp on the art of the craft, but it also about people, and how sometimes art is away to escape the realities of the real world and find your niche within the world that may not see you as you want it to.
It is a curious thing for a musical genius who builds his songs with obscure tactics like Frank to desperately want popularity, but he does, and when the band is offered a chance to play at South by Southwest, he is both excited and undeniably nervous about putting himself out there, much like any artist has. Frank may look and act odd but Fassbender gives humanity to this personality that doesn’t seem human or lifelike.
Jon is almost the vessel for the audience to learning about Frank, as much like us, Jon is interested in what makes him tick and creates this personality that makes him unlike anyone else. Not only do we want to know what is under the mask, but we also want to know why this mask is something that he never takes off, and after spending time with this character, it is apparent that the mask, like his music, is what drives him.
Frank is more than just a film about family and being in a band, it is a film about people and how we all wear masks in order to get through life. Sometimes they are a literal new face over our own, and sometimes it is a dream that is so close to being achieved. We are all wearing a mask, just maybe not as well as Fassbender does.