The concept of this film column is to binge specific actor-led films in which said actor is the only “star,” shines the spotlight on some almost unknown up-and-coming actors and isn’t the typical blockbuster (I.E. indies). For right now, the actor being binged is Michael Fassbender.
When researching Michael Fassbender’s film backlog, the most intriguing one was the single syllable and typically a first name “Frank.” The trailer for the film is extremely deceiving. It presents itself as a fun, wild, wacky black comedy and not much else layered underneath. It’s something much more. Something special, even.
Most of us have seen our list of favorite films of all-time, and those are locked in place for years to come. But it’s the rare film, such as “Frank,” that muddle everything in our brains because of how much it stands-out. Forcing us to re-consider our list and how to move some around. Frank’s uniqueness and overall message is a marvel — more on that in the next paragraph. Whenever any form of medium, frankly (no pun intended), isn’t afraid to say what it wants to and, in this case, its directorial vision is allowed to be set free. Then, it can be a part of the elite.*
“Frank” does everything just said in spades. It makes the audience wonder and ponder from the start what am I watching, chuckle every so often, tear-up when necessary and delve into deep-thought when the film fades to black. It is calls, begs to be re-watched and re-watched and re-watched… And it can be with ease because it isn’t a Peter Jackson esque 150 minutes. It’s a tight 96 minutes and available on Netflix, as of the posting of this review.
Besides its length, “Frank” is highly recommendable because it isn’t afraid to take head-on themes anybody can empathize with: career ups-and-downs, life’s everyday problems and one more that’s heartbreaking and extremely down-to-earth but it’s a massive spoiler. Let’s just say it’s a topic many ignore and bully whenever it appears in front of them while few embrace and accept it as a part of life. How director Lenny Abrahamson and screenplay writers Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan weave it as part of the film’s story is nothing short of masterful. They take the undisclosed topic and show it through the universal language of music. “Frank” defines on screen how music can truly speak to anyone.
This column wouldn’t be “The Fassbender Binge” without talking about Fassbender, obviously. As Frank, it’s hard to believe how his face could be covered throughout most of the film for such a mesmerizing actor. With that said, Fassbender is more than at his best. He’s unrecognizable. Wait until the end of the film, it’s hard to hold back tears after seeing how he portrays Frank. His method performance is jaw-dropping.
Two other notables in the cast were Domhnall Gleeson, who is the audience’s vehicle and does a great job of it, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, if not for Fassbender she steals the show.
It’s a shame “Frank” wasn’t, at least, nominated for an Oscar or two.**
* Two wrinkles for those last two sentences: (1) When was the last time a directorial vision wasn’t “allowed to be set free?” Oh, yeah. The Fox, Josh Trank, Fantastic Four plop. (2) Even when a vision is allowed and noticeable. A film like “Frank” is criminally overlooked. Bet in large part because it bares the blasphemous term “indie.”
** As a consolation of sorts, “Frank” was nominated and won a number of awards at the British Independent Film Awards and Irish Film and Television Awards.
Tweet @werdynerdy to suggest other actors besides Michael Fassbender or even be specific in terms of a particular film in the likeness of “Frank.”