Frank 2014

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Writer Jon Ronson briefly played keyboards for entertainer Frank Sidebottom, an odd-ball character who wore a huge paper-mache head. For some reason he’s chosen to fictionalise his experiences for this twee and superficial film. Reaching into the depth of his imagination, Ronson conjures up a story of a keyboard player called Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) who gets a gig playing keyboards from Frank, an entertainer who wears a huge paper-mache head. Going off to rehearse and record with the band in a remote house in Ireland, Jon captures the various band squabbles on video and posts them online, where they gain a cult following and a slot at South by Southwest. The band is not ready for stardom, and cracks soon appear in their make-up as the impending date looms. With much of the film devoted to curiosity about what Frank looks like under his head, it’s frustrating that Michael Fassbender has been so highly publicised in this role; it destroys whatever tension director Lenny Abrahamson might intend. The revelation that Frank is mentally ill is handled without much sensitivity, and what’s left is a series of awful pop songs, badly sung, and a somewhat exploitative attitude to mental health issues.

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