By Craig Singleton (Wigan, England)
Frank Sidebottom is a character created by English singer Chris Sievey first shown in 1984. He’s most famous for wearing a giant papier-mâché head which has a peculiar expression. His eccentric personality and his expression actions whether it would be singing or stand-up comedy made him well-known in Northern England especially and has become a notable figure. With Sievey’s blessing, this film was made to show the world a basic idea of who Frank was and how he acted.
The story sees Jon played by Domhnall Gleeson who is an aspiring musician. He tries to write his own songs, but struggles to get across what he wants to say. One day on a beach he meets a band called Soronprfbs and is asked to join them when their keyboard player tries to commit suicide by drowning. Frank played by Michael Fassbender is an odd looking man and the lead singer who takes a liking to Jon. The band travel to Ireland to record an album and as Jon gets to know his new band mates, he tries to develop his musical talent.
Not giving in to watching the trailer, I thought that Frank would be the main focus. Frank is the person who his band mates idolize, the kind of person they want to be. The fact that he wears a giant head only makes them love him more. However, Frank is a side character who I couldn’t see develop as the main focus was on Jon. Jon was a good character and had some great lines delivered well by Gleeson, but Frank wasn’t in shot enough for me. When he is, Fassbender sits truly comfortable into the real-life star’s head as he steals every scene. He’s not a bad singer either Fassbender with a decent vocal range.
Frank finds inspiration from the simplest sounds that help him create his music, his sounds and encourages Jon and the others to do so as well. Although his face is concealed from the screen, you feel that you can call his emotions when he’s not speaking his expressions out loud by judging the great body language Fassbender gives off. Frank is a perfectionist and makes the band perform the same chords over and over until it sounds great enough for the album. The album takes months to record and it wears on the band.
Although I am disappointed by this film for not having Frank as the lead, the plot was still enjoyable enough to watch it the whole way through. Aside from Frank the other characters were memorable, especially that of Clara played brilliantly by Maggie Gyllenhaal. She’s an aggressive member of the band who takes an immediate dislike to Jon. She had a lot of quotable lines in a great tone of voice that stuck in my mind after viewing such as, “Somebody should just punch you in the face”.
A criticism of the film is that I felt that were a lot of good moments that could have been great as the script held the story back. The story seemed to go along at a slower pace than I thought it would and not capitalizing on the moments that mattered meant it became quite pointless at times. The character of Frank himself was brilliant, but it felt to me like a large amount of scenes were recorded and deleted for the theatrical release which took out the character development I was longing for.
My score for the film is 76%. Lowest mark for plot, highest for characters. Very funny and a great insight into Frank, but left wanting more than the film gives out. Sad face.