Despite wearing a creepy head reminiscent of the Jack-in-the-Box mascot for most of the film “Frank,” the title character is oddly expressive, even endearing.
As played by the ever-busy Michael Fassbender, Frank — in this wonderfully iconoclastic comedy — is the leader of an avant-garde band whose music is, like the movie, an acquired taste. But that taste sure sticks with you.
For some unknown reason, Frank has worn the head since he was a teenager, never taking it off to eat or even shower. Despite this eccentricity, or rather because of it, Frank commands Jesus-like reverence from his fellow musicians, including the icy Claire (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and Jon (Domnhall Gleeson), whose unlikely presence in the band ultimately brings about its destruction and resurrection.
Jon, a struggling wannabe songwriter who looks more suited for the corporate job he clearly dislikes, joins the band almost by accident when he happens upon the keyboardist trying to drown himself in the ocean. Before Jon knows it, he is whisked off to a remote lake house where the band spends more than a year trying to record an album.
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Things start to come apart when the band gets invited to the South by Southwest music festival, much to the disapproval of Claire, who has been battling Jon for Frank’s attention and artistic soul.
People often think of artists, especially the edgy kind, as pretentious and self-absorbed. But Fassbender effectively imbues Frank with a sweet vulnerability, and Frank is surprisingly open-minded to the world around him. You may wince at the music but not at the man who cares so deeply about it.
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson, “Frank” is not specifically about music but rather how music, or art in general, can bind people to purpose and to each other. It hardly matters that Frank’s music is weird and largely unknown.
Because the only time these artists are truly at peace is when the world leaves them alone to do their thing.
(At Screenland Armour.)
Rated R | Time: 1:35