ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Frank (2014) Review

Updated on August 15, 2014

A small frenzy is being made over this indie film. And its own disposition puts us in a difficult spot when judging it, because it wants to be quirky and, well, it is. So how do we think and feel about a quirky indie dramedy about quirky people? If we judge it as too quirky, we risk “not getting the point,” and if we judge it as “not quirky enough” or “stereotypical” we risk “taking it too seriously.” The “cool” thing to do, then, would probably be to like it, especially in light of the wave of praise it’s getting. Or would it?

In cases like this, I find the best approach to be to consider what the filmmaker aims to do based on what takes place, and then to judge how well they do it. And, the way I see it, this film aims to take us into the chaotic creative birthing process of a band whose psyche is nearly impossible to penetrate, and to show us their core humanity by the end. True, it is a comedy, but there is no doubt by the end that it wants to be taken seriously. This is an admirable aim for the subject matter at hand, except for one problem: the narrative device used to accomplish this is an outsider’s perspective.

How does this affect the story in its telling? For one thing, we are always one remove from the human core of these people. We never follow them around. We never enter their psyches. What the storytellers have told us, in effect, is “these people are too abnormal to carry a narrative, so we’re going to give you a likeable little sailboat for the dark and chaotic waters.” I say, “Stop holding my hand; throw me in and let me swim!!” I would love to watch the hints of this group’s creative process unfold in more than a series of montages of them at their “weirdest.” Much more than I care to follow Domhnall Gleeson’s tweeted observances and judgments. Why constantly be pulled out of the reality rather than experience it for myself?

Gleeson makes this already insufferable writing weakness even less bearable by playing his character with pretty much the same one note he plays everything, as an endlessly polite, incessantly whiny British kid. That seems to be the point of many of his scenes, a joke we are meant to laugh at, except that over the course of the story we are also meant to be him, to sympathize. And yet he doesn’t have any real arc. Far more engaging is Fassbender’s distant and mysterious title character, who ends up as simply a gimmick for storytellers who don’t know how to handle the mystery man archetype to portray the profound psychological effect this kind of character can have on a protagonist by revealing a reflection of their own untapped inner powers. The character that does get a little closer to that kind of inner-to-outer manifestation is Maggie Gyllenhaal’s almost too one-dimensionally strange-angry (strangry?) threatened manipulative female member. She at least tries to push our tweeting narrator to limits he doesn’t ever come to.

The frustrating thing is that with these characters there is so much potential. In the final scene, in fact, as our protagonist just kind of vanishes from the plot, we realize that the story was actually supposed to be about this band whose psyche we were barred from! Which makes the film's title itself misleading. The whole approach, in both screenplay and direction, is a bizarre misstep that seems to stem from fear of sitting with and facing the darkness of injured people. If we can only come to eventually admire them from a distance, the film says, we’ve done our job. But my question is, who wants to be a part of that disingenuous “we”?


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)