Frank & Lola Review
A driven and successful Las Vegas chef starts a romance with an aspiring young fashion designer. However the couple’s brief happiness soon begins to unravel in a downward spiral of betrayal, inner demons and shocking obsession.
Frank & Lola opens with an attention grabbing bang, firmly establishing a compellingly dark and aggressively sexual tone for this tense noir thriller. Debut director Matthew M Ross sets out to be daring and instantly succeeds with the help of a bold script and suitably intense star turns from leads Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots.
Michael Shannon has firmly cemented his leading man credentials with a series of scene stealing and often villainous performances in a diverse range of big screen blockbusters. Whether portraying an intergalactic warlord or a more mundane figure, Shannon’s performances are consistently imbued with fiercely intense and broodingly dangerous qualities. Few actors are able to capture the subtle nuances of projecting tangible menace and fragile vulnerability simultaneously. Luckily Michael Shannon is one actor capable of delivering exactly that kind of performance.
Shannon is able to turn his character Frank into a coiled spring of ominous sexual tension. The more dangerous and unpleasant aspects of the character are masterfully balanced with Shannon’s innate screen gravitas and oddly menacing allure.
Imogen Poots is an actress consistently hailed as being possessed of considerable potential. In truth her eclectic career has sadly seen her often languishing in films that are too resigned to mediocrity to make best use of her undoubted gifts. In Frank & Lola, Poots has finally found at least one film able to harness the very best of her acting strengths. It’s a fine compliment to say that the young British star more than holds her own alongside Shannon’s domineering powerhouse performance.
Following the brief optimism of Frank and Lola’s initial courtship it’s safe to say that the disintegration of that trust and love is uncomfortable but utterly scintillating material. It deserves to be seen and discussed.
Frank & Lola toys with the pretense of being a love story but soon largely abandons the satisfying warmth of romantic happiness in favour of increasingly dark and unexpected directions. Though the film manages to maintain a hypnotic fascination for much of that descent it does struggle to deliver on all that fine early tension during a somewhat less compelling climax. Indeed it’s also fair to admit that while Frank & Lola does grip audiences with a noirish web of intrigue and all-star performances, it will no doubt remain a little too disturbingly dark and cynical for some tastes.
The Ugly Truth
Propelled by the electric tension between two gifted and charismatic leads, Frank & Lola is an expectation defying ride that grips audiences in intense and intimate ways. It marks an auspicious debut for director Matthew M. Ross and serves to only further cement Shannon’s unique talents and Poots’s well-deserved rising star status. Overall the film is deliciously dark, seductive and fascinating.