Review: ‘Frank & Lola’ Is An Oscar-Worthy Noir With Mass Audience Appeal
“Frank & Lola” explores the darker side of love cultivated from deceit and jealousy.
Set in Las Vegas and Paris, “Frank & Lola” is a psychosexual love story starring Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots. Throughout the film the darker side of love is explored. Through obsession, betrayal, sex, and revenge, “Frank & Lola” establishes itself as a strong mysterious thriller.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Plot, etc.) – 5
This is a character-driven film first and foremost. While mass audiences may be captivated by the thrill of “what’s going to happen next,” every element is a reflection of Frank (Michael Shannon) and Lola (Imogen Poots). From the caliginous feel of secluded streets of Paris to the gritty atmosphere of Vegas, the tone of the setting emulates the mood of the characters. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but one city being known as “sin city” and the other known as the “city of love” seems more than coincidental for the theme of the film. I could feel the tension looming from one scene to the next. Transitioning to and from each scene was smooth and the timing was perfect. It never felt like things were too stagnant nor too brief to gather the context of the situation. Frank and Lola were developed in a piecemeal fashion which kept me invested in them and the mystery as it unraveled.
Speaking of the characters, Michael Shannon’s performance is beyond exceptional. In my opinion it is one of the breakout performances of the year and the Academy Awards should take notice. With “Frank & Lola” being an introspective look at these characters, I couldn’t find one misstep in Shannon’s performance. Subtle gestures made with his hands or pensive body language supplemented the brilliantly conveyed emotions in the scene. Imogen Poots also gave an adequate performance but didn’t have as much screen time as Michael Shannon. When she and Shannon engaged one another, the emotional chemistry was superb. Lola’s quiet, calm nature added to her mystery while Frank’s unhinged jealousy created an interesting juxtaposition. While Michael Shannon stole the spotlight, both actors more than proved their worth in this film.
There are so many elements to “Frank & Lola” that spawn from developing these characters. The underlying theme is love but as things progress, I was able to see how it’s defined as a loaded concept. Love has its dark side and it’s amazing how many genres it implores “Frank & Lola” to explore. Crime, drama, mystery, and suspense all originate from Frank and Lola’s relationship. You would think with so many different elements to explore, parts of the film would become diluted. Surprisingly “Frank & Lola” maintains fluidity through brilliant execution from beginning to end. Cinematically, I think this is a perfect film.
Entertainment Value – 4.5
Before getting to know any character there’s usually a bit of disdain that needs to be offset by some other aesthetic or excitement. “Frank & Lola” achieves this by opening the film with sex. It’s nothing gratuitous, in fact it’s an intelligent way to fast track interest. Sex brings with it vulnerability and honesty. Both Frank and Lola awkwardly reveal characteristics about one other which works since sex is naturally awkward. This had me curious about them from the beginning and it was even more satisfying when these reveals made their way full circle by the end.
While building upon their relationship and who they are, the moments that ensue in between should appeal to most audiences. The dark yet lavish setting of Las Vegas and Paris were a phenomenal backdrop for the tone. There’s a mixture of excitement and suspense still discovering who these characters are and what they’re capable of. That uncertainty is what had me on the edge of my seat while being totally intrigued.
As a cinephile I loved “Frank & Lola” for the more intricate details. But as a popcorn moviegoer, I loved uncovering the truth and the unexpected details. I was engaged and entertained for just about all of the 1 hour and 28 minute runtime.
Re-Watchability – 3.5
This is a category I wish I could inflate based on how much I love this film. I personally will be giving this film multiple viewings and will be adding it to my personal collection once it is released on disc. It’s a lively journey that I thoroughly enjoyed. The mystery and character progression is fulfilling and could be relived through a few viewings. It may not be the same experience as the first viewing, but it certainly has appeal.
“Frank & Lola” is in theatres and available on digital demand Friday, December 9, 2016.
- Entertainment Value
"Frank & Lola" is pure, raw filmmaking that is driven by its characters. It's amazing how many elements are explored in this film without diluting its substance. Michael Shannon gives an amazing, Oscar-worthy performance and is perfectly juxtaposed by Imogen Poots. This is one of those underground, surprise films that you should not miss.
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