The sheer perversity of casting Michael Fassbender then
hiding his head under a giant papier mache mask might have been enough to
attract attention to “Frank,” but Lenny Abrahamson’s film is more
than a stunt. It’s a wonderfully eccentric, loosely structured black comedy with
a dark undercurrent. Domhnall Gleason plays a musician of limited talent and a
huge longing to escape his deadly office job and life. He falls in with an
avant-garde band that includes Maggie Gyllenhaal as Clara, a glamorously dour theremin
and keyboard player, and the lead singer, Frank (Fassbender), who never removes the
giant mask that lets him move about in the world, until circumstances force him to near
the end of the film. The actors really
played and sang as the band with the deliberately unpronounceable name Soronprfbs.
The film meanders from Britain to Austin and SXSW, where it makes
an emotional curve that doesn’t entirely work, explaining Frank’s oddness too
neatly. But by then “Frank” has created an indelible world, that lingers long after the movie has ended. This smart
little indie asks questions about art, ambition, sanity, and more crucially: how can really know that it’s Fassbender under that mask?
Fassbender was Stephen Colbert’s guest on “The Colbert
Report,” and the band, including Gyllenhaal and Gleason, performed “I
Love You All.” Take a look, and
hear Colbert pronounce Soronprfbs.