(Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy, et al / DVD / R / 2014 / Magnolia Home Entertainment)
Overview: Michael Fassbender stars as Frank, a genius rock musician who performs wearing a giant fake head that he never removes. Things get rocky between his protective bandmate Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and newcomer Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), who is convinced they're meant for stardom. The band lands their biggest gig, but are they ready? And is the world?
DVD Verdict: Not quite knowing what to expect (especially given its cover art!), 'Frank' turned out to be an odd and wonderful mix of comedy and sadness, absurdity and reality, playfulness and originality. The acting is terrific throughout, the cast creating slightly larger than life comic characters that somehow still feel real enough to invest in emotionally. It's a tone few movies get right. "Harold and Maude" comes to mind.
Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) wants to be a pop star in the worst way (literally). He walks around writing amusingly bad pop tunes in his head. Life as a musician seems only a dream when as luck would have it a band, playing in his home town for just one night, needs a replacement when their keyboard player goes bonkers, and Jon is in the right place at the right moment. Thus begins Jon's journey with a band of misfits, who may be geniuses or just delusional ... or both!
They are led by Frank (Michael Fassbender) an amiable if deeply odd fellow, who wears a giant plaster head that he never takes off, even to sleep. His counterweight is the angry, punky and edgy Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who is fiercely protective of the fragile Frank, and sees Jon's attempts to get the band to go mainstream as dangerous to both their artistic integrity, and Frank's well being. All this leads to adventures, changes, discoveries and insights that are often outrageous and darkly funny, but ultimately quite moving as well.
Also to be noted is just how great the music and songs created for the film are. They have to be "off" enough to be funny, but good enough for us to believe there really is something to Frank's talents. This is done very well, both in the writing and performing, the actors showing some musical chops, and the film creating tunes that, to my surprise have been caught in my head for days.
Indeed, the whole film has stuck with me far more deeply than I imagined while I was watching it. There's a haunting quality behind the humor that captures what special about "outsider" art, and it gives the film a resonance and gravity to go along with it's light-handed playfulness. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Behind the Sounds
Behind the Mask
Meet the Band
What is the Name of the Band?
Interview with Director Lenny Abrahamson
AXS TV: A Look at Frank
Commentary with Director Lenny Abrahamson, Actor Domhnall Gleeson and Music Composer Stephen Rennicks