Totally original, this odd film chronicles a musical band (very) loosely based on the story of Frank Sidebottom, a Brit comic who enjoyed some underground success in the late 1980s and early 1990s by wearing a fake head with a cartoon face painted on. The fact that Michael Fassbender stars as Frank initially caught my attention.
And kept it.
The deapan band, the oddity a la Daniel Johnston (See The Devil and Daniel Johnston), and the absurd coming of age of Jon, character played by Domhnall Gleeson, made for a multifaceted story that left me thinking. I felt this film was most notably about mental illness and human connection that hit a note I haven’t heard since Lars and the Real Girl.
Fassbender evokes a bemused musician in a complex web of aspiration and creative stimulation, mainly through gesture and body language, remaining inside the head until the final scene in the film.
Jon’s (Domnhall Cleeson) longing for fame that he confuses with meaning and belonging is juxtaposed neatly between Fassbender’s paper mache headed weirdo and Maggie Gyllanhal’s bleak sardonic nihillist.
The music in the film emerges as it’s own character, totally original and touching. I’ve relistened to the final hymn of the film, “I Love You All,” a dozen times already. It’s bizarre, it’s beautiful, it’s a testament to the the confusing process of creating music, and perhaps to the power of art.
I loved it all.