“And now I’m rotten. And so are you. And so is this.”
I’ll just come out and say it now: Michael Shannon is hands down one of the best actors working right now. His performance as Frank in Frank & Lola is just one of the many testaments to that statement. The film is a perfect example of a well-executed character piece, and the titular characters were superbly acted by Shannon and Imogen Poots. The two are lovers with a significant age difference, who travel back and forth from Las Vegas to Paris due to Frank’s talent and classical training as a chef, and Lola’s history of residence in both cities. Their relationship grows more and more toxic with each scene, which develops through the focus on mostly Frank. He discovers that she has been cheating and lying, and the relationship falls apart internally while the two refuse to let it go physically. The desperate attempt to hold on to something that they both agree is “rotten” and the emotional torment they both go through while seeming to act like nothing is going to change plays into the helplessness of being in love and the fear of moving forward.
The editing of the film is fascinatingly temporal. For the most part the scenes follow a linear storyline, but the film’s formal order and presentation emphasize the focus on the raw emotions and interactions of the characters rather than the progress of the story itself. The progression of the story is unpredictable, and is thrilling to watch unfold, largely due to the deep character development. Again, the performances are the key highlight of the film; without their strength, the film would still be good, but not as effective as it proves to be. Each scene and interaction seems like they could serve as events that could take place years apart or hours apart, other than the Transatlantic travel of course.
Frank & Lola was an Official Selection at Sundance in 2016. It serves as directorial debut for Matthew Ross, who also wrote the script. The small but impressive supporting cast includes Justin Long and Rosanna Arquette and Michael Nyqvist.
-By Kirk Yoshonis