HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Frank & Lola
HTS Overall Score:73
“Frank & Lola” has indie introspective viewing written all over it. The tiny cast. The confined locales, and the billing of Justin Long, Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots pretty much screamed that this was going to be a slow burning film. I have to admit that I kind of glossed over the description when I saw the press release and was under the impression that this would be one of those “Dinner with Andre” types of films where we would spend 90% of the movie stuck inside a room or a dinner table watching the two leads discuss something. Instead we are privy to a fairly close knit and intense psychological thriller that delves into introspection and dissection of three people’s inner demons. “Frank & Lola” piques the interest and gives us some fantastic scenes to chew over, but also leaves you with more questions than when you started and a sense of empty dissatisfaction.
We open up the film with Frank (Michael Shannon) and Lola (Imogen Poots) hooking up after a romantic night and the spark of attraction is more than just a casual fling. The two start to fall for each other, but there are problems in the relationship. Frank is a Las Vegas chef in between gigs, and Lola is a charming free spirit. Franks over abundant jealousy starts to get in the way when his eyes keep spying on the flirtatious Lola, even when she’s going to meet a business mogul (played by Justin Long) for a job interview. His jealousy may have some basis in reality, though, as one night Lola comes to him in a broken state and admits that she slept with another guy. One word leads to the next and soon Lola is spilling her guts about a sexual abuse that happened some years ago in France when a Parisian playboy named Alan (Michael Nyqvist) took advantage of her naivety.
Willing to overlook Lola’s indiscretion due to her tragedy, Frank and she move on with their life. A fortuitous change of events occurs when Lola’s fashion mogul boss sets Frank up with a job interview with one of the most prestigious restaurant owners in the world at his French mansion. Deciding to accidentally “run into” Alan when he’s in Paris, Frank sets up a little rendezvous where he can exact a little revenge for Lola’s sake. However, when confronted with the man, the tables are turned when Alan begins to share with Frank a whole other side to Lola. A side that changes the dynamics of their relationship forever.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=90642[/img]When the back-cover lists “Frank & Lola” as a “psychosexual noir romance” they weren’t kidding. The entire movie is just one giant mind game with pieces of the puzzle slowly being put into play, and certain bits of information held back until the opportune moment. However, sometimes TOO much information is held back. The 88 minute film feels about 20 minutes too short as there is ample room for us to find out some of the more pertinent details. Lola is a giant WRECK of a woman due to her mother’s influence and the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of Alan. However, Rosanna Arquette is only in the film for about 5 minutes, even though she is one of the main reasons for Lola’s state today. The same goes for Alan and his wife Claire (Emmanuelle Devos) and their open marriage that makes all of Alan’s antics acceptable in their world.
Much of the film is shrouded in keeping things mysterious so that the audience is never really clued into the fact that things are actually much simpler than they appear. When Frank goes to France for the first time and meets Alan we think this whole other world of information is being opened up, but after he gets home the boom is dropped and we realize that it is much more simplistic than ever expected, which alone is almost the biggest bombshell of the movie. However, despite these flaws the movie has some seriously powerful scenes. The amount of tension between Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots is nothing short of fantastic, and the Club scene where Frank throws caution to the wind is impeccably filmed. In fact, the mysterious build up for the first hour of the film is incredibly intoxicating and had me on the edge of my seat. It wasn’t until the third act that I realized the film had run out of steam and was struggling to keep its head above water. While that third act is not a failure, it does slow down dramatically and suffers a bit as the writers try to wrap things up without properly.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=90650[/img]“Frank & Lola” comes to Blu-ray with an extremely well done 2.40:1 AVC encoded image. The picture is not always bright and shiny, but the clarity is spot on perfect and the fine detailing never lacks for anything to show on screen. Slightly gold tinged, the image looks fairly natural amidst the dim lighting of the seedy French clubs or the restaurants that Frank inhabits, and the amount of facial detail is startling. You can see every line, every crease in Michael Shannon’s craggy face. The dim lighting sometimes introduces some mild banding, but the digital shoot looks extremely clean and clear of all other artifacting to my eye.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=90658[/img]The singular 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is quite the track as well. Never overbearing or unassuming, the 5.1 mix is a subtle blend of film noir music and just the right amount of minimalistic dialog. The vocals themselves are firmly planted up front and full of energy, but the suspenseful score gets the majority of the surround usage, adding a sense of depth and power to the otherwise laid back film. You can hear the individual human voices and musical changes in the seedy French club, and the streets of Paris are home to a host of little background noises that make the back channels sing. Again, “Frank & Lola” is not a blasting blockbuster track, but it is a highly nuanced track that employs some great musical bits to give it the energy and mood that it has.
“Frank & Lola” is an interesting dramatic thriller. Michael Shannon plays the brooding character of Frank to a T, giving forth an impression of sheer danger and simmering anger, while Lola is slightly under developed. We know she’s had years of psychological trauma and damage from differing sources that lie under the bubbly and flirtatious exterior that she exudes. The movie is well done to a point, but suffers in the third act by leaving more questions asked than answered, and not enough actual filleting of the character’s souls to truly make the end a believable moment. Audio and video are certainly great, but with the ultra slim extras (only a few trailers) the rough ending, I would recommend renting “Frank & Lola” first.
Starring: Justin Long, Michael Shannon, Imogen Poots
Directed by: Matthew Ross
Written by: Matthew Ross
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 88 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Buy On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Rental First
More about Mike