Loosely based on the writer Jon Ronson’s experience with the quirky enigmatic English musician Frank Sidebottom, this movie explores the complexity of the world of music and what it means to be an artist. Join us Wednesday, March 25, for Lenny Abrahamson’s 2014 film Frank, a film for anyone who has ever been a fan of experimental music, quirky comedy, and the drama that comes from being in a band.
Frank follows the unexpected musical adventures of an aspiring songwriter, Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), as he is suddenly made a member of the experimental band, The Soronprfbs, when they find themselves in need of a keyboard player. Jon is taken aback by the band’s lead singer, Frank (Michael Fassbender), who chooses to always wear a paper maché mask, as well as the band’s confrontational Theremin player, Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who opposes Jon joining the band.
Jon, wanting nothing more than to become a talented and successful musician, becomes fast friends with Frank. Jon recognizes the band’s talent and the driving force behind it: Frank’s unmatched musical creativity. But will this be enough to help the band make it big? Does Jon have what it takes to direct the band towards greatness?
Frank also explores themes related to music and dispels some misconceptions about them, such as depression and mental illness among artists, trauma and its association to creativity, artistic ability and personality disorders. Rather than working off cliché, Jon Ronson’s screenplay works to deal with these issues based off of the experience of real musicians rather than trying to exaggerate them to add to the film’s intrigue and catharsis.
Some of you may remember Trent Film Society’s screening of Steve McQueen’s 2012 Shame with Michael Fassbender as the lead role. Though in Frank he plays a supporting role and spends most of his screen time wearing a mask, he is able to bring life to a strange and loveable character with his performance. He is also quite a gifted singer!
The actual Frank Sidebottom was very different from the Frank that Michael Fassbender portrays in the movie, though they both share an aura of mystery with their peculiar personality (as well as with the mask they wear). The film is able to capture much of Frank Sidebottom’s playful nature, while also drawing on some other personalities like Daniel Johnston and Captain Beefheart, whose stories this movie borrows from as well.
The real Frank brought joy to many with his comical musical mashups of British pop hits from artists like Queen and The Smiths, bringing a childlike energy and charm to his music performances with his small concerts and appearances on local television networks throughout the late 80’s and 90’s.
All of our screenings are absolutely free. They are also open to everyone, not just Trent students.
The screening will be held at Artspace, your local artist-run centre, located at 378 Alymer Street, just past the Greyhound terminal on Simcoe Street. The screening starts at 8pm. Hope to see you there!