Michael Fassbender Can Dominate a Party, Even When Wearing a Giant Fake Head
When you look around and see Jack White, Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Jimmy McNulty from The Wire, you can bet that something weird is about to happen.
That was the deal at the Westway last night, on Manhattan's surprisingly Baltimore-ish Far West Side, where Tommy Hilfiger co-hosted an after-party for a bizarre but endearing new film called Frank, with Fassbender in the title role, as a mentally ill rock singer who spends every waking hour with a giant papier-mâché cartoon head over his own. Gyllenhaal plays the emotionally and at times physically violent “instrumentalist” who is probably in love with him. AndDomhnall Gleeson (remember him from that time-travel rom-com About Time?) plays the naïve kid who uses social media to bring Frank and his band of misfits to a bigger audience, with semi-disastrous results.
Gleeson's character is based on Jon Ronson, a British journalist who co-wrote the screenplay and based it on his own experiences playing keys for the “real” Frank. Frank Sidebottom was a character played by comedian and musician Chris Sievey, who did take the mask off from time to time—“though he sometimes wore it for a lot longer than you might imagine,” Ronson told me.
Sievey died in 2010, but he gave his full backing to the film—and put his stamp on it, Ronson said, by insisting that no reference to his actual identity be included. That forced/inspired the filmmakers to turn Frank into an intriguing cipher—a guy who is so out there that he never shows his own face. And that, in turn, leads to the inevitable question: What is his real face? Is it the flesh-and-blood one he was born with, or the cartoonish creation he chose for himself?
(Ronson was, incidentally, pleased that the long-gestating project had anticipated a recent souring of opinion toward social media. “I think we were first to see that dark side,” he said.)
Fassbender is, above all, a phenomenal physical actor, and his body language is so eloquent that at times you’d swear that Frank’s big cartoon face was smiling or pouting, laughing or crying. He cruised through the bar at the Westway, showing off his own much-admired visage, before strapping on the head helmet and performing one of the songs from the film. “I love you walllllll,” he droned in a resonant baritone that called to mind Joy Division's Ian Curtis.
An encouragingly cheerful Jack White , a real-life collaborator with Frank’s drummer Carla Azar, had a front-row view of the festivities. And the aforementioned McNulty, actor Dominic West, clung close to director Lenny Abrahamson. Those two go way back—they shot a short together in 1991.
After one song, the band—Gyllenhaal and Gleeson among them—shut off their instruments. Why play more when even one brief tune was enough to trigger a thousands cell-phone flashes—and fill a few dozen influential Instagram streams?
y adivinen quien estubo en la fiesta? Si...esa que quedó bajo la cabezota de Frank es Zoe Kravitz