“… truly spoke to me in its messages about not only mental illness but also about artists.”
Frank is a movie I haven’t seen for a while, but after watching it again last night it proved that all of my praises have not been misplaced. Frank tells the story of an aspiring songwriter who finds himself in a band full of eccentric artists making very eclectic music. Despite Frank being kind of slow to start, the movie showed that it deserves this spot that I’ve built up for it in my mind. But what is it I love so much about Frank? What I love about Frank is its ability to tell two completely different stories simultaneously.
Of course Frank is about Frank, the strange band leader who wears a giant fake head at all times, and through Frank we get to take an unfiltered peak at mental illness. It’s no surprise that something is wrong with Frank, but the way the film portrays his character allows you to keep wondering. Maybe he’s just a strange artist, or maybe there is something else wrong with him. The way that Frank discusses the topic of mental illness is interesting to me. Throughout the movie as we get glimpses into the lives of the band mates we see that there is something underneath almost every one of them. We see that this pain, this struggle brought them together in a way, and this only gets better when the movie refuses to romanticize mental illness. Denying that there was a defining “thing” that happened to Frank was a very mature direction to take the movie. Some people just aren’t well, and movies often forget that fact in favour of something a little more exciting. And this was a particularly interesting way to go given the other story that was being told.
While Frank may be the focus of the movie the more interesting story in my opinion was that of Jon, the new band mate. In Jon we get to see the worst parts of an artist. He isn’t a bad guy, but his views are very skewed. For instance, Jon spends the entire movie green with envy. There isn’t one scene that goes by where Jon isn’t jealous, and that is a very adult thing to portray in an artist. Jealousy is a normal feeling, and despite it being one of the deadly sins everybody on this earth has felt it at least once. But it was the way Jon harnessed these feelings that made his character so compelling. For instance, Jon’s viewpoints on art itself were misplaced. The general tone that he gives throughout the movie is “If he can do it, why can’t I?”. Jon spends the entire movie wondering why others are better than him, and trying to emulate their past life experiences in an attempt to rise to their level. The most revealing scene to me is when Jon states that he now has suffered enough and therefore is creative. It is such a backwards, disgusting way to look at art but that is exactly what the character is all about. And this compounds even further when we see Jon use others for his own personal gain. This may not be as overt, but he is using Frank the entire time in an attempt to gain fame. I don’t doubt that he cares about Frank, but his actions definitely show that he cares about himself first.
And these stories come to a beautiful conclusion when they merge at the end of the movie. Jon’s realization that pain doesn’t make an artist is very important. He realizes that he had the exact same opportunities as Frank when he was growing up, but instead of harnessing them he spent his time feeling sorry for himself and envying others. And the very end of the movie is a very important moment as well in a “if you love something, set it free” kind of way.
Overall Frank is a movie that truly spoke to me in its messages about not only mental illness but also about artists. Although the movie starts off a little slow, it soon sucks you in and you are completely at its mercy.
I give Frank an A