Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson in Frank
"His attempt at satire digs too deep into the muddy waters of exaggeration" | Photo: Lorey Sebastian

Punk became synonymous with bedsit musicianship. This was part of its statement. And then there was metal roar and fuzzy blah that murdered melody as an act of protest.

Frank is different. He could have been the bastard son of Spinal Tap but his attempt at satire digs too deep into the muddy waters of exaggeration.

Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) is a shy suburban middle-class teenager who can read music, play the piano and write terrible lyrics, the perfect guest at progressive music's after party.

He meets a bearded man in a dark overcoat on the beach one evening, watching policemen drag a failed drowner out of the sea. This soaked won't-be suicide is the keyboard player for a not-yet-known abstract, futuristic, atonal underground band with a name that no one can pronounce.

Jon appreciates the aggressive conviction of such a publicity-averse group and then even more so when he meets Frank (Michael Fassbender), their lead singer and creative guru, who is never seen without a cardboard head from a Munchkin pantomime hiding his face. And so Jon is happy to fill the gap left by the beached piano player.

Having set the scene for an exposé, both ironic and facile, of the pretentious aspirations of these multinational sound artists - they spent 14 hours a day for 11 months holed up in a cabin in the woods working on their first album which was never finished - the film becomes tedious and repetitive.

Frank's identity hardly matters after a while, neither do the extremes of self absorption suffered by everyone in the band, except Jon who remains naive and sympathetic, a victim of circumstance.

Bad music creates worse karma that creates white noise. Frank is a perfectionist; he's also a bore.

Reviewed on: 15 Apr 2014
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Offbeat comedy about a wannabe musician who finds himself out of his depth when he joins an avant garde rock band led by the enigmatic Frank - a musical genius who hides himself inside a large fake head.
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Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Writer: Jon Ronson, Peter Straughan

Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy, Michael Fassbender, Hayley Derryberry, Mark Huberman, Matthew Page, Travis Hammer, Tess Harper

Year: 2014

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK, Ireland

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