My capsule review of “Frank” at 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival + Trailer

On Saturday, June 14, 2014 I attended a special screening of Frank at the Los Angeles Film Festival. The sold-out event took place at the Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE. The film was a selection in the Summer Showcase section.

Director Lenny Abrahamson is one of Ireland's most honored filmmakers, garnering a slew of prizes on the fest circuit for Adam & Paul (2004) and Garage (2007). Writers Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan previously teamed up on The Men Who Stare at Goats, George Clooney's 2009 box office hit. But it's the cast of luminaries that give this film its emotional impact. Besides the blockbusters Michael Fassbender is known for (300, Inglorious Basterds, X-Men: First Class, A Dangerous Method, Prometheus, 12 Years a Slave, X-Men: Days of Future Past), the Oscar-nominated star has appeared in a number of my film festival favorites over the years, as well. These include Eden Lake (2008), Fish Tank (Toronto 2009), and Shame (Toronto 2011).

Maggie Gyllenhaal is one of those achingly excellent actresses who can do no wrong in my book. She delighted me in Hysteria, a movie of many delights, which made my Toronto 2011 Top 11. Her moving performance as Elizabeth Darko in Richard Kelly's 2001 classic Donnie Darko remains one of my all-time favorites. Then there's Scoot McNairy, who wowed me in Gareth Edwards' Monsters, my very last screening at the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival. Since then, he's gone on to tremendous success with Argo, Killing Them Softly, Gus Van Sant's Promised Land, 12 Years a Slave, and Non-Stop. He's currently co-starring with Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce in David Michôd's The Rover, which dazzled audiences at Cannes and Sydney.  

Based on a newspaper article, Frank is an absurdist comedic drama that takes viewers on a cryptic journey, figuratively and literally, across two continents in a band's search for recognition. The heart and soul of the movie is the titular musician (played by Michael Fassbender inside a fake head) who may be the most enigmatic character in recent indie film memory. The "songs" (not exactly Top 40 material) are real with live performances in lieu of dubbing, a plus. No spoilers here so I won't divulge the essential themes which are revealed slowly, but patience is required on the part of the viewer...especially as the film turns dark and heads off into a decidedly non-Hollywood studio direction which kept me on the edge of my seat.

As a longtime (eight year) attendee of the SXSW Film Festival, I especially loved the references to the event and scenes shot on location in Austin. While they didn't capture the extent of the madness which surrounds SXSW, it was an accurate, although scaled back, depiction of what it feels like to be in downtown Austin in mid-March (where it played, ironically, following its Sundance debut in January).

I spent quite a bit of time throughout the rest of the festival debating Frank's plot points with those who'd seen it, a sure sign that this picture will polarize while it horrifies some, delights others, and leaves many shaking their heads in wonder. I fall into the latter category.

A UK/Ireland co-production, Frank was shot in Dublin, Ireland; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Austin, Texas.

For a synopsis see the festival's official page.


NOTE: I've selected Frank as one of my Top Picks from the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival. Magnolia Pictures acquired the film for domestic distribution. It will be released theatrically in select markets on August 22.

The official trailer is below.

Frank official film trailer - in cinemas from 9 May

Find out all about Frank by visiting Acclaimed Irish director Lenny Abrahamson follows up his…
  • Video Release: March 06, 2014
  • Length: 1.98 min
  • Views: 212869


Larry Richman

Larry Richman

For 20 years I was a professional in the entertainment industry, from commercial broadcast radio in America's fourth largest market to band management to record production. But my passion is independent film, and I spend much of the year traveling to film festivals to see indies and meet the actors, directors, and others responsible for creating them. I'm a writer, photographer, and videographer, currently serving as Senior Vice President for Media & Technology and Public Relations at PROnetworks as well as Editor at

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  • Author: Larry Richman
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