“… even throughout the films ups and downs there was a lot to keep me interested.”
Anyone who has been reading my reviews for a while knows that I absolutely adore Michael Shannon and will watch literally anything if he is in it; so imagine my surprise when I found Frank & Lola while scrolling through Netflix. Frank & Lola is a film that follows a couple, Frank and Lola (played by Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots respectively), who don’t have the strongest of relationships and we get to watch as this already shaky relationship almost goes nuclear.
One thing that kind of bugged me about Frank & Lola was the fact that the plot kind of switched gears quite a few times throughout the film. We don’t really get to the root of what the film is about until about halfway through, so the first half is a little Helter-skelter. I understood that the movie was following this couple, but apart from that there was a little bit too much added and forgotten that it was hard for me to keep track. One thing I will say about this is that Frank & Lola was never boring. The interactions between characters, what little story we got, and especially the performances all kept me engaged throughout the film. I will say that some things could have probably been left on the cutting room floor, but Frank & Lola is under 90 minutes as it is so I won’t hold these things against the film. When the story does pick up and become a little more cohesive, it seems to get a little too focused; almost to a confusing degree. Frank & Lola keeps you guessing, but it shouldn’t rely so much on that fact. The story itself is good enough without confusing the audience every other scene, so it would have been nice if they had cooled it with all of that.
But really the only reason I watched Frank & Lola was to be amazed by the performances, and that was achieved tenfold. Frank & Lola is largely a two-person film, with a few other characters chiming in from time to time. For one of the smaller parts, it was nice to see Justin Long again; and boy can that guy play a real piece of shit. I also really enjoyed Michael Nyqvist’s performance as the films ‘villain’. He can really make your skin crawl, and he does it multiple times. But now let’s get to the main event: the stars of Frank & Lola. One person to really surprise me in Frank & Lola was Imogen Poots. Now I’m not super familiar with Poots (aside from her very unfortunate name), but I have seen her in a few films the most recent being Centurion. One thing that I can say about Poots (at least before I saw Frank & Lola) was that she was forgettable. She always seems to show up, give a passable performance, and then disappear before the credits start to role with nobody the wiser. That is one thing she definitely did not do in Frank & Lola. In Frank & Lola Imogen Poots delivers what is easily the greatest performance I have seen her give, really tapping into the character she is playing and delivering so much emotion in so many scenes. The scenes shared between Poots and Shannon were magical, and they really did a great job of making you attached to, and feel for, the characters. And of course, it almost goes without saying at this point, Michael Shannon delivers yet another stellar performance as Frank. Where Imogen Poots showed emotion while playing Lola, Shannon also showed emotion as Frank; but it was a very different set of emotions. Frank is the kind of guy that you are terrified of (or at least you should be) which isn’t a huge step for Shannon, but he still played it flawlessly. There are quite a few scenes where I was in awe of Shannon’s performance, but I can’t really go into specifics here for fear of spoiling the film. Frank & Lola on a technical level was also pretty great. Past the performances and the story you have things like the editing, which utilized fades to give the film a real ‘storybook’ feel, and the score which combined smooth jazz with a kind of classical flare that not only captured Las Vegas (where the film is set) but also the general tone of the film.
Overall Frank & Lola was a pretty enjoyable experience. I found the story to be a little unfocused at the beginning, and then when it did find its focus it got a little confusing, but even throughout the films ups and downs there was a lot to keep me interested. The editing was great, the score was wonderful, and the performances were fantastic. Frank & Lola is definitely a movie I would encourage everyone to see.
I give Frank & Lola a B