Frank (film)

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For the 1973 film, see Frank Film.
Frank movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Produced by David Barron
Ed Guiney
Stevie Lee
Written by Jon Ronson
Peter Straughan
Based on "Oh blimey!" 
by Jon Ronson
Starring Domhnall Gleeson
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Scoot McNairy
Michael Fassbender
Music by Stephen Rennicks
Cinematography James Mather
Edited by Nathan Nugent
Irish Film Board - Bord Scannán na hÉireann
Element Pictures
Runaway Fridge Films[1]
Distributed by Magnolia Pictures (US)
Element Pictures (Ireland)
Release dates
  • 17 January 2014 (2014-01-17) (Sundance)
  • 9 May 2014 (2014-05-09) (United Kingdom)
Running time
95 minutes[2]
Country Ireland
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £1 million
Box office £1.2 million[3][4]

Frank is a 2014 comedy-drama film directed by Lenny Abrahamson and starring Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy and Michael Fassbender as the title character. The film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. It was released in Ireland on 2 May 2014 and was released on DVD and On-Demand on 12 September 2014.[5] It was released in cinemas in the United Kingdom on 9 May 2014.


Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), an aspiring songwriter, witnesses a man trying to drown himself while walking along the beach of his town. The man is taken to the hospital and Jon talks to Don (Scoot McNairy), who explains the man was a keyboardist in an experimental band, the Soronprfbs, managed by him. Jon mentions that he plays keyboards and is invited to play with them that night. Jon goes along and meets the rest of the band, all of whom are reluctant about Jon, except Frank (Michael Fassbender), the band leader who wears a papier-mâché mask. The concert goes well, until Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) breaks her theremin and storms offstage.

Frank invites Jon to become a full-time member. He accompanies them to Ireland, where they will record their first album in a remote cabin for the next year. Clara is very antipathic towards Jon, and continually torments him for being mediocre and having no talent.

Don explains to Jon that he wanted to be a songwriter too, and just like Jon lacked talent and was terrible. He plays a song for Jon, who compliments it. Don tells Jon that Frank is special, and that eventually Jon will believe that he either can be Frank or could at least be like him, but that it is impossible because Frank is unique. Don implies that this realization will hurt Jon the most, and that this is what is causing Don to be depressed himself. However, Jon feels that if he could just have hard experiences that he assumes Frank had (with his mental illness and believed hard childhood) that it would fuel him and get him to take the next step in his creativity. Jon believes that his time with the band will be the catalyst that will make this happen.

The morning after they complete recording of their album, Jon finds Frank's corpse hanging from a tree. He calls the rest of the band down and they remove the mask, only to find it was Don wearing Frank's mask. Don is cremated and Jon is told that Don was the first keyboard player for Frank. Jon realizes that every keyboard player the band has had has had some kind of mental breakdown.

Afterwards, Jon reveals he has been posting the band's recording sessions online. The Soronprfbs have gained a small following and have been invited to South by Southwest. Clara is against going to South by Southwest, and accuses Jon of manipulating Frank and giving him delusions of grandeur. During one of their fights, Clara and Jon's hatred for each other turns into passion and they end up having sex, but Clara tells Jon that he disgusts her and they will never be together again. However, Frank wants to be popular and to create "extremely likable music" so he decides to go; Clara warns Jon that if things go badly in Austin she'll stab him.

Upon arrival in Texas, Jon, Frank and Clara scatter Don's ashes, but realize the band's guitarist Baraque (Francois Civil) accidentally packed a canister of powdered food instead of the ashes. Afterwards, the band travels to Austin, while signing up for South by Southwest Jon and the band discover that they aren't as popular as they thought, and that the crowd will have no idea who they are and will have never listened to their music before. Upon hearing this, Frank starts to become erratic and has a panic attack. Clara sees the changes in Frank and knows that he can't handle this situation, so she pleads with Jon to help convince Frank to not perform and go back to their unknown status. Jon refuses and works with Frank to try to create a more likeable version of their songs. On the day before the concert, Clara and Frank disappear. Jon finds them in an alley where Clara is trying to calm Frank and get him to agree to leave.

Jon convinces Frank to ignore Clara and to do the gig. Clara stabs Jon in the leg and is later arrested by the police. Back at the hotel room Drummer Nana (Carla Azar) and Baraque accuse Jon of getting rid of Clara and quit the band. Jon and Frank become a duo. As they go onstage, Jon announces that it's the best day of his life and begins singing one of his own songs. Frank falls over and when Jon rushes over to him to check on him, Frank tells Jon that his music is bad, suffering a nervous breakdown. Frank passes out on stage with Jon trying to revive him. The next day, Jon attempts to reason with Frank and tries to remove Frank's head. A panicked Frank runs out of the motel room and is hit by a car. Jon gives chase but realizes Frank has escaped, leaving only remains of the mask behind. Jon subsequently gets hit by a car.

After being released from the hospital, Jon goes to a diner. When other patrons refer to him and the band as "freaks", it dawns on him that their internet popularity was never about the music, they were simply laughing at how strange they all behaved. Sometime later, Jon has attempted to track down Frank in order to make amends, but he cannot be found anywhere. However, he finds a bar where Clara, Nana, and Baraque are now playing. Jon finally succeeds in tracking Frank to his hometown of Bluff, Kansas, where he is living with his parents. They explain that Frank has had mental health issues all his life and began wearing the mask as a teenager. Jon questions Frank's parents about his childhood. They tell Jon that Frank had a loving family and a happy childhood. Jon realizes that there was no traumatic event in Frank's life that inspired Frank to become a musical genius and his mental illness never propelled him but limited him. Jon now sees that Frank's amazing talents aren't from traumatic events or from his illness, that Frank's genius was just inherent, and that he will never be able to be like him; just as Don had told him. Jon finally sees Frank without a mask, only to see a despondent man with scars on his face and bald spots on his scalp from the prolonged use of the mask. Jon apologises to Frank for ruining the band and trying to take off his mask. He then takes Frank to the bar where the band is. Frank begins to speak and they realize who he is. He begins singing and joins them onstage while Jon leaves the bar.


  • Michael Fassbender as Frank, the eccentric titular character and leader of the band who wears a large papier-mâché head throughout the film, similar to that worn by Frank Sidebottom.[6] Director Lenny Abrahamson said that Fassbender was "very comfortable" wearing the head and said that he even enjoyed acting in it.[7]
  • Domhnall Gleeson as Jon, a young wannabe musician who joins Frank's band.[8]
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal as Clara, Frank's often aggressive sidekick who plays a Korg MS-10 and a theremin.[9][10] Gyllenhaal originally turned down the role, saying that she didn't understand it, but the story stuck with her and weeks later she changed her mind.[11] Before filming started Gyllenhaal decided to act as though Clara was Frank's true love but said that it was hard due to Frank's head.[7]
  • Scoot McNairy as Don, the band's manager.[10]


Frank is a fictional story mostly inspired by Frank Sidebottom, the comic persona of Chris Sievey who is thought to have given his backing to the film before his death, but the plot was also inspired by other musicians like Daniel Johnston and Captain Beefheart.[8][12] Jon Ronson, who co-wrote the film, was part of Sidebottom's band, and the plot began as an adaptation of his writings but later became a fictional take on it.[11][13] The film shot in County Wicklow, Dublin, and New Mexico in 2013.[14][15][16] The music performed by the band in the film was recorded live by the cast while filming.[10]


The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on 17 January 2014.[17] When audiences went to see the film at Sundance, they were all given masks similar to that worn by Frank in the film.[7] The film premiered in Europe at its European premiere in Dublin on 25 April 2014.[18] The film was released in cinemas nation-wide in the Republic of Ireland on 2 May 2014[5] and in the United Kingdom on 9 May 2014.[19]


Frank received highly positive reviews from critics and has a rating of 92% on Rotten tomatoes based on 145 reviews with an average score of 7.5 out of 10. Most of the praise was directed towards the cast (especially Fassbender's performance) and the quirky nature of the film. The consensus states "Funny, clever, and endearingly unusual, Frank transcends its quirky trappings with a heartfelt -- and surprisingly thought-provoking -- story."[20] On Metacritic, based on 31 reviews, Frank has a score of 76 out of 100, signifying generally favorable reviews.[21]

Kyle Smith of the New York Post described it as a "whimsical delight" saying it has a lot of heart, commenting positively on Gleeson in particular.[22] The Daily Telegraph‍ '​s Amber Wilkinson rated the film 4/5, calling it "off-beat and punk-spirited."[23] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave it four stars out of five saying, "Frank works as satire, as memoir, as comedy bromance, but it works mostly because it is just so weird".[24]

Criticism for the film was largely based on how the plot developed towards its end, with the New York Post's Kyle Smith finding it unfortunate that the film came "crashing down in a total bummer of a third act".[22][10]

In conjunction with the U.S. release of the film, Michael Fassbender made an appearance as Frank with his band on the Colbert Report.[25]


Date of ceremony Group Category Recipient(s) Result
7 December 2014[26] British Independent Film Awards Best Screenplay Jon Ronson, Peter Straughan Won
Best Director Lenny Abrahamson Nominated
Best Technical Achievement – Music Stephen Rennicks Won
Best Supporting Actor Michael Fassbender Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal Nominated
December 2014[27] Les Arcs European Cinema Festival Best Score Stephen Rennicks Won
18 December 2014[28] Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards Best Song "I Love You All" Won


  1. ^ "Irish Film Board - Media Hub - Trailers - Frank". Irish Film Board - Media Hub. 
  2. ^ "FRANK (15)". Artificial Eye. British Board of Film Classification. 2 March 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  3. ^ "Frank (2014) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. 
  4. ^ "Frank (2014) - International Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. 
  5. ^ a b "Watch clip from new Irish film Frank". 20 January 2014. 
  6. ^ Han, Angie (17 January 2014). "'Frank' Clip: Yes, That’s Michael Fassbender Under the Giant Fake Head". /FILM. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c Buchanan, Kyle (18 January 2014). "Sundance: How to Make Michael Fassbender Unattractive". Vulture. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  8. ^ a b White, Steve (6 September 2012). "Michael Fassbender is about to go big-headed... playing Frank Sidebottom in a new film". Metro. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  9. ^ Kemp, Stuart (10 January 2013). "'Frank' First Look: New Still Released From Film Set". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c d Debruge, Peter (18 January 2014). "Sundance Film Review: ‘Frank’". Variety. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Kit, Borys (18 January 2014). "Sundance: Cast of Michael Fassbender's 'Frank' Thought Film Was 'Bizarre'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "Maggie Gyllenhaal to star alongside Michael Fassbender in 'Frank'". NME. 1 January 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  13. ^ Ronson, Jon (12 January 2014). "Frank Sidebottom: the true story of the man behind the mask". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  14. ^ White, James (30 December 2012). "Maggie Gyllenhaal on For Frank". Empire. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  15. ^ Tilly, Chris (10 January 2013). "First Pic of Michael Fassbender as Frank Sidebottom". IGN. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  16. ^ "'Calvary' and 'Frank' World Premieres at Sundance". The Irish Film & Television Network. 10 December 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  17. ^ Fleming, Mike (17 January 2014). "Sundance: ‘Frank’s Lenny Abrahamson Makes Element Pictures First-Look Deal". Deadline. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  18. ^ "Fassbender to attend Frank premiere in Dublin". 15 April 2014. 
  19. ^ Eisenberg, Eric (20 January 2014). "Michael Fassbender Wears A Paper Mache Head, Sets Up Some Ground Rules in First 'Frank' Clip". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  20. ^ "Frank (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  21. ^ "Frank". Metacritic. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  22. ^ a b Smith, Kyle (18 January 2014). "Odd-ball flick 'Frank' brings heart to Sundance". New York Post. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  23. ^ Wilkinson, Amber (19 January 2014). "Sundance 2014: Frank, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  24. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (8 May 2014). "Pter Bradshaw's Frank Review". The Guardian. 
  25. ^ Fischer, Russ (7 August 2014). "Michael Fassbender Performs as ‘Frank’ on ‘The Colbert Report’". Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  26. ^ "Nominations 2014". November 3, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2015. 
  27. ^ Fabien Lemercier (2014-12-19). "Les Arcs crowns The Fool". Cineuropa. 
  28. ^ "'Birdman' and genre love from Las Vegas film critics". December 18, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2015. 

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