Frank is as weird and charming as its protagonist. The movie is a strange black comedy about a young keyboardist that joins a band. Interestingly, the musical group happens to be filled with former mental patients and the lead singer, Frank, wears a sizeable cartoonish mask over his head at all times. The movie has a lot of things to say about creativity and the pursuit of happiness, but the most exciting part for me is that it was partly inspired by a true story.
I knew next to nothing about the real Frank when I watched the movie. The only things that I knew were that he was based on a British personality that went by the name Frank Sidebottom from the 80’s. Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie by Jon Ronson is an exciting look at the whole Frank Sidebottom phenomenon that would later become the inspiration for the movie. Ronson writes a memoir of his time in Frank’s band as the keyboardist.
The book humanizes Frank Sidebottom and lets you in on who he was under that mask. In the movie, it was an intentional decision to fictionalize who Frank was in hopes to not damage the character in both the real world and on film. In both instances, Frank seemed to be blessed and cursed with an uncontrollable creative imagination that fueled his music. Everyone, audience and band members alike, were just along for the ride. It is clear that he wore a mask so that he can be more than he could ever be without it, or it’s possible that he was afraid of who he was underneath it.
Eccentric is probably the most appropriate word for the artist known as Frank Sidebottom. The pages in the book not only chronicles the time that Ronson was in Frank’s band but also the years that followed that lead to him co-writing the script for the feature film. There are only ninety-six pages in this book, but I enjoyed each one. The brushes with fame that eluded Frank are heartbreaking to read due to him being a slave to his own creativity. He may have the unique designation of being one of the weirdest fictional and nonfictional characters to have ever existed. Also, he is one of the most lovable.
Novel by Jon Ronson
Original Publication Date: January 2014