Welcome to the world of Frank, the movie opening this week about a rock band with an unpronounceable name and creativity so fierce it burns up the screen. Last night’s post-premiere party felt like a dream. The on-screen band got back together for a performance so surreal even Jack White, foot-tapping away in the audience, looked impressed.
Frank, directed by the truly inspired Lenny Abrahamson, is the fictionalized movie version of British journalist Jon Ronson’s book, Frank: The Story That Inspired The Movie. The book focuses on the time Mr. Ronson spent touring with eccentric musician Frank Sidebottom, a giant, mask-wearing legendary performer in Northern British nightclubs during the ’80s and ’90s. The movie version simplifies the story, with a hapless but devoted young Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) stumbling across Frank’s band during a suicide attempt by the keyboard player. Volunteering his own talents for a gig that night, Jon joins the band. Michael Fassbender as the mysterious Frank wears a blow up head for most of the movie and his physical presence on screen is beyond mesmerizing. Simultaneously groovy and tragic, Mr. Fassbender’s tender treatment of the core of the story, mental illness, left the hardcase NYC audience dotting away tears as the screening ended.
But back to the party, sponsored by Tommy Hilfiger and Dark Horse. It took place at former strip club The Westway, where Carla Azar, on-screen drummer with the band and real-life drummer with Jack White, took up sticks, joining Ms. Gyllenhaal and Mr. Gleeson on keyboards and Francois Civil on guitar. Mr. Fassbender hit the exotic dancer’s podium and kind of howled behind his mask. Genius.
Frank opens at selected cinemas this week.
All photos courtesy of Paul Bruinooge/PatrickMcMullan.com.