Lenny Abrahamson’s (Garage, What Richard Did) fourth feature is one of the more idiosyncratic films of 2014.
A fictional, often very comical, biopic of life on the road for an avant-garde rock band The Soronprfbs led by the enigmatic Frank (Michael Fassbender) and modelled very loosely on Chris Sievey’s Frank Sidebottom character.
When the band abruptly loses their keyboardist hours before they are due to play a small town gig, Frank invites local boy Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) to take his place. Before Jon realises quite what’s going on, he finds himself in a remote Irish holiday home recording an album with the bunch of musical misfits intent on making their very own Trout Mask Replica.
What initially is a very funny satirical exploration of the experimental music scene- a kind of avant-garde Spinal Tap – quickly moves onto more serious and poignant ground, testing the boundaries between madness, creativity, art, talent and reality.
This supremely assured film renders perhaps the most convincing fictional account to date of being in a band and creating music. But more than this, it’s also a searing, sensitive and provocative exploration of mental illness and the ensuing destructive power of isolation it brings in its wake.