In North-East England Frank (Darren Beaumont) leads an isolated life, suffering from a compulsive obsessive disorder is the least of Frank’s numerous mental issues. A victim of bullies, from those in the street to his landlady; Frank truly leads a wretched life. One day while hanging out on the beach Frank finds Fidel (Con O’Neill), whom he takes home and makes friends with. This might not seem so bizarre were it not for the fact that Fidel is dead, and rotting.
Frank is one of those little movies that you think is one thing, and quickly it moves into becoming something else. In the words of it’s makers, it is very much a genre defying movie, that has no clear place in any category. It’s too funny to be drama, too horrific to be comedy, and too artsy to be a thriller.
The depiction of Frank by the virtually unknown Beaumont is one of utter excellence; you are talking the sort of performance that Oscar’s have been handed out for lessor efforts. Beaumont is without a doubt the true embodiment of the person he is playing. And with the greatest respect to the actor, he is so convincing that you would honestly believe that in real life he had a learning difficulty.
Directed and written by Richard Heslop, Frank is the first full-length feature from this legend of music video. Heslop has delivered an image of beauty in an unattractive world. What he has created shows a very real look at what it’s like to suffer with a learning difficulty in the modern day, and spins it entirely on its head, to the extent that you have no idea how this movie will end up.
Random is the only word that you can use to truly define Frank, you think you have seen it all, from the strong performance of Beaumont, to the clown like image of Fidel slowly rotting in his chair, and the utter despair felt as the characters move around the immediate area that is Frank’s home. But then you have the delightful Kellie Shirley, who most UK readers will be familiar with in the role of Carly in Eastenders, having sex with a corpse, but don’t panic because she is dead too.
For this reviewer there is one final moment of excellence in the movie (and this is not spoiling the story for you), and this is some sort of massive awakening, in all the insanity that goes on, you suddenly realize that Frank is actually the most normal person in this community, and in this revelation the movie is spun on it’s head yet again.
Frank is not all perfect, there are some moments of frustration for the viewer, where you find yourself questioning where the movie can go, a form of mid movie lull if you will. At the screening I attended, the movie also caused some to flee the auditorium, at a point where Frank takes drastic measures to prevent his flat from smelling, but you could also say that this is a good thing.
Frank is as a whole a great piece of work, however it’s inability to fall into any category, and a great number of disturbing scenes may find this movie in a difficult place when it comes to distribution; if however you get the chance to see it, you really should.
The biggest achievement, and one that is worth mentioning is that Frank cost a little over £100,000 to make, and when you look at what is in it, and compare it to the multi-million dollar blockbusters out there, it proves that a quality movie can still be made on an incredibly modest budget.
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