Examining the Emotional Difficulties of the Male Characters in Frank

By Nivea Mendoza

An unforgettable night of celebration for the band Soronprfbs turned into a tragic mess when they are left having to grieve from the loss of their manager. Just moments before, Don was chugging down sparkling beer. The next morning Jon glimpsed at what looked like Frank roped by the neck hanging from a tree and rushed outside along with the rest of the band members to grab him. In absolute panic the band members gently carried him and laid him out flat, attempting to unknot the thick rope wrapped around his neck. It wasn’t long until they noticed Frank witnessing all that’s occurring and soon finding out that it was actually Don underneath the fake head and not Frank.

The film Frank by director Lenny Abrahamson is a hilarious but meaningful comedy/drama about a dedicated unknown musician who finds himself unaware of what he has gotten himself into once he becomes part of an electric pop band. The journey of writing their own highly personal music and creating their ultimate album turns into a rollercoaster when their personal problems and toxicness mix.  First time viewers of this film may notice that only Jon is ambitious. As one of the main characters, Jon is the big dreamer of the film. He’s the guy that never sees the worst in anything, the one that never runs out of hopes. Jon’s dream of being a musician became a reality when he joined a unique bunch of people in playing in a band that brought him excitement. In some way each person has some kind of challenge to overcome. Frank, the second main character, has a deeper story. Even now being all grown up he’s still clueless as to how to overcome the tribulations of stepping out of his comfort zone. Since the age of 14, all he knew was to hide away inside a homemade head. Yet, there is something incredible about him. For so long he stuck to what was most familiar to him in life. The one thing he never did was toss away his love for music. He always persevered to be better musically at whatever cost. In the moments of them all playing together, they were wonderful, but the outside demons prevented that same level of dedication. Clara carried more anger than happiness within herself and Don let depression sweep his life away. The ending isn’t an absolute happy ending you see in movies, but everyone finally ends up facing one another. The way Frank touches upon the true tribulations that the male characters face emotionally is very significant. It shows the times where they were at their lowest in the realist way.

One of the many valuable features included in the film Frank is the giant dollish head that Frank never seems to go a day without. It’s his physical shield and protection from being face to face with fear. What’s so ironic is that he mentions to Jon, “I say tell everyone everything… why cover anything up?” In actuality, except through his music, Frank hardly ever lives by this motto. There is an important lesson of blossoming from your differences and conquering the world because you cannot live fearfully forever. Although Frank doesn’t admit to this, it’s recognizable that the head has given him some small troubles such as scratching himself. As a matter of fact, by the end of his gig with Jon the head was already disfigured. It started off as a small crack at the corner with leftover makeup and a large piece of duct tape reaching down the middle. Jon witnessing this then encourages him to take it off, but Frank ignores the idea entirely. He shouldn’t have turned aggressive in the mix of it, and he was in the wrong for that. Frank isn’t just simply hiding away his face, he is hiding away from the world around him. The only way Frank can face any human beings is if he’s wearing the fake head. As a friend Jon wants Frank to realize that hiding in disguise was good while it lasted, but it’s time to let go now. Eventually, that is exactly what Frank did. He faced his band members as his true self and sang his very first song wholeheartedly not as “Frank with the fake head” but as Frank the person.

Another remarkable detail incorporated into this movie was Don taking his own life. Watching the film, you can see how it has such a fantastic way of illustrating a great deal of foreshadowing. It is quite obvious that Don struggled with depression and the film lays out all of the red flags for us viewers. For instance, he’d have lots of venting moments, played sad melodies on the keyboard along with singing heartbreaking lyrics, and eventually we learn that he was very homesick. Maybe that is why he smoked cigarettes and drank often. Given that, Don has expressed that he wants to be Frank. It is safe to say that the reason why he committed suicide in such a way through his second attempt is because dying wearing Frank’s head represents him fufilling his desprate desire of finally being like Frank. Don knows in his heart that although they both can relate to having mental illness, Frank still is super lively and he knows how to live with the circumstances, unlike Don. Moreover, if this creative scene wasn’t added to the film then we wouldn’t recognize Frank’s growth as a character in being self aware and vulnerable without any shame.

The most significant characteristic of this film by far is Jon narrating. This decision made was great in some ways and poor in others. For most of the film, Jon is narrating until he isn’t anymore as we reach the end of the movie. Having Jon be the narrator was the best decision because the audience gets a great “from the inside looking out” viewpoint. The audience can actually see for ourselves lots of what Jon witnesses when it comes to the highs and the lows that the band faces, such as arguing constantly to the point where it even becomes violent sometimes. For instance, it makes the movie seem genuine, raw, and honest. Now the downside of this is that in the ending stages of the movie, Jon suddenly pulls away from telling the story when Frank gets struck by the car after being chased by Jon. It’s as if Jon falls into a negative emotional state because of all the guilt he carries and the fact that he’s facing this doesn’t seem like it matters. It would’ve been better if they paid more mind to Jon’s rough patches. There is no recognition of what Jon is feeling inside at the end of the film.

My senior year of high school was a treasured time that I will always cherish. At that time I had encountered a big challenge that I signed myself up for. Being born at 24 weeks and having to go through many complex operations came with fighting for a healthy life, and I’ve got that. Then I was left with my final challenge of living an ordinary life with meaning. The challenge has been both to be normal and to explain my differences. I passed through that chapter of my life and since then everything has changed. Believe it or not, back then I was very much like Frank. Instead of hiding under a giant head I would wear anything possible that would cover the scars on my body. I was trying to avoid revealing something precious but personal to my heart, because I was afraid of being judged everyday I walk into school or just being treated differently from everyone else. Learning how to accept myself was a hardship that I carried along with me for so long and there were days where I felt just as depressed as Don. Just like me though, Frank discovered that nothing takes more courage than putting yourself back together. Many other things are way easier to overcome, but in the end you’ll realize just how strong you truly are.

Works Cited

Abrahamson , Lenny, director. Frank. YouTube , 2017, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZGs02xCxnE&t=1802s. Accessed 31 Oct, 2019

Course: ENG 101 Composition, Fall 2019
Assignment: Evaluation
Instructor: Kevin Lamkins
Instructor comments: Nivea has a wonderful ability to incorporate her personal experiences into academic writing, something she has done well on multiple occasions. Here she used her experience as an ending strategy to help show the realness and applicability of the film. In addition to solid evaluation throughout, she also uses an effective beginning strategy by detailing a pivotal scene as an attention-getter.