By Caryn James | James on Screens August 7, 2014 at 9:56AM
The sheer perversity of casting Michael Fassbender then hiding his head under a giant papier mache mask might have been enough to attract attention to "Frank," but Lenny Abrahamson's film is more than a stunt. It's a wonderfully eccentric, loosely structured black comedy with a dark undercurrent. Domhnall Gleason plays a musician of limited talent and a huge longing to escape his deadly office job and life. He falls in with an avant-garde band that includes Maggie Gyllenhaal as Clara, a glamorously dour theremin and keyboard player, and the lead singer, Frank (Fassbender), who never removes the giant mask that lets him move about in the world, until circumstances force him to near the end of the film. The actors really played and sang as the band with the deliberately unpronounceable name Soronprfbs.
The film meanders from Britain to Austin and SXSW, where it makes an emotional curve that doesn't entirely work, explaining Frank's oddness too neatly. But by then "Frank" has created an indelible world, that lingers long after the movie has ended. This smart little indie asks questions about art, ambition, sanity, and more crucially: how can really know that it's Fassbender under that mask?
Fassbender was Stephen Colbert's guest on "The Colbert Report," and the band, including Gyllenhaal and Gleason, performed "I Love You All." Take a look, and hear Colbert pronounce Soronprfbs.