FRANK (2014, Lenny Abrahamson)
Describe this film to someone and they might suspect that it’s directed by Michel Gondry — after all, it’s about an avant garde rock band with a frontman who wears a giant fake head 100% of the time. Gondry does that kind of quirk really well, and even though it may have been unfair bias, I did spend a lot of the movie wishing he was behind the camera. Abrahamson and his writers (Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan) do offer up some nice visuals and a sharp sense of humor, especially in the early going, but once the film shifts to Austin, and the tone of the movie switches from comedy to pathos, it starts falling apart. My biggest problem is that, in an ALMOST FAMOUS-style narrative, we see this band through the eyes of wanna-be Jon, who isn’t a creative talent like his companions. And as the film morphs into a story more about Frank than Jon, we realize how much time was wasted on Jon that we could have spent learning who Frank is — and even if Frank’s ultimately enigmatic persona is part of the point, it still feels like a missed opportunity. Fassbender does a lot with a little, and Scoot McNairy once again brings the greatness, but Domhnall Gleeson is the same aw-shucks innocent he was in ABOUT TIME, made even more bland when put opposite Maggie Gyllenhaal, who is overacting as if she’s in a different, more explosive movie. The music is strong, especially the closing number, and while I laughed enough to have had a fine time, FRANK still felt too slight by half.