Frank – reviews of ‘weird and wonderful’ musical comedy

May 9, 2014

Offbeat tale of an outsider band is a surreal but moving study of art and eccentricity, say critics

What you need to know 
Music comedy drama Frank opens in UK cinemas today. The film by Irish director Lenny Abrahamson stars Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave), former Harry Potter actor Domhnall Gleeson and Maggie Gyllenhaal.  

In Frank, aspiring singer-songwriter Jon (Gleeson), joins a band called the Soronprfbs that’s run by a mysterious frontman called Frank (Fassbender) who constantly wears a papier-mache head. When they start recording an album, tensions rise and Jon begins to question his role in the band.

The film is loosely based on the story of Frank Sidebottom, the papier-mache head-wearing alter ego of British musician and comedian Chris Sievey.

What the critics like 
This is “a weird and wonderful musical comedy about an oddball outsider band”, says Peter Debruge in Variety. Abrahamson lures in skeptics with jokey surrealism but delivers them to a profoundly moving place.

Frank is “an off-beat, punk spirited film” that goes beyond the mask of humour to question ideas of creativity, says Amber Wilkinson in the Daily Telegraph. Michael Fassbender, it turns out, has a good singing voice and doesn't need moving facial features to make an impression.

The film is “a barking-mad but affecting comedy about the side-effects of being a non-conformist genius”, says Damon Wise in Empire. Though it seems on the surface to be a daffy comedy, it is a surreal study of art and eccentricity.

What they don’t like 
“For a film that champions talent that takes risks, Frank can sometimes feel a little too conventional,” says Henry Barnes in The Guardian. The real Frank's wayward genius would be hard to fit into a traditional story arc, but the film still does a good job of dipping into surrealism and pop in equal measure. 

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