Our ambassadors review the movie Frank that is being screened in cinemas across the country as part of First Fortnight, Ireland’s Mental Health Arts Festival. 

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See Change Ambassador review

“For me, who has often felt ‘different’ and sometimes isolated because of lack of understanding, this is a superb stir-up on traditional perceptions of mental health issues.”

Mental Health explored through the creative arts. That was the headline, and it caught me straight away. I’ve always had a theory that people who have experienced any form of mental illness are fabulously creative [unabashed, I include myself]. I even had a ‘egg before the chicken’ debate with a wonderful woman who has Bipolar [though as she says herself, she doesn’t carry it around in her shopping bag]. So, before hitting play on this film, my curiosity as to how mental health would be portrayed was at full mast.

This film is about making music, creating something with our fellow human beings. Frank [Michael Fassbender] is at first seen as the central character, the one who wears mental health issues largely and publicly in the form of a paper mache head which he never removes. Two comments during the movie struck me.  Frank “Everything should be out in the open, what’s the point in hiding?”, Don [Scoot McNairy], referring to Frank “For all his issues, is the sanest cat I know”. Jon [Domhnall Gleeson] is the accidental keyboard player.  Seen as the ‘normal’ one.  The one not trusted by two other members of the band because –“when he looks inside himself, he sees nothing, so he has to take from…”.

For me, who has often felt ‘different’ and sometimes isolated because of lack of understanding, this is a superb stir-up on traditional perceptions of mental health issues.  Ten out of ten for an emotionally intelligent portrayal of how societal views can be a little askew simply because we don’t take the time to listen, to go beyond our own notions of ‘normal’. This film beautifully questions normal, and it leaves space for the audience to start a conversation, to listen. The music was not my cup of tea, not my normal taste, but I understood something incredibly important.  I don’t have to like it.  The people who composed it articulated their emotions through the creative arts – And I, a See Change Ambassador was taught a good lesson – the definition of normal is truly subjective.

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Sean O’Reilly’s review

“The first thing I will say about the movie Frank is people need to see it, and possibly see it a few times, in order to wrap their heads around it fully, because words alone will fail to capture the depths that are portrayed in this movie.”

Hi my name is Seán O’Reilly im 23 turning 24 next month, I have Asperger’s Syndrome and im also a mental illness survivor and I live in Knocklyon Dublin.

On Saturday the 22nd of October I attended a See Change training day in UCD, on that day I officially became an Ambassador for See Change and I also met some of the other Ambassadors who are an awesome bunch of people I must say.

As part of that training day we were treated to a free screening of the movie Frank, which is the critically acclaimed movie that  See Change have chosen to do a national cinema tour with in January as part of the ¨First Fortnight Mental Health Arts and Film Festival¨calling at Dun Laoghaire, Bray, Portlaoise, Thurles, Galway, Waterford, Limerick and Kildare.

It was my first time seeing Frank and I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was nothing like what I expected and I recommend it highly.

When the movie was over we had a discussion about the movie and what thoughts or opinions it invoked in us. I listened intently to what everyone said, everybody’s opinions were interesting.

When we were asked if any of us were interested in putting our thoughts and feelings about the movie into a small written review for See Change to use in reaction to the movie for local media and online, I decided I would like to do that.

The first thing I will say about the movie Frank is people need to see it, and possibly see it a few times, in order to wrap their heads around it fully, because words alone will fail to capture the depths that are portrayed in this movie.

In my opinion it is a powerful, thought provoking film that’s full of emotion and is the perfect platform to start conversations about mental health.

The story is centred around Frank(Michael Fassbender), who is recognisable by his big fake head which he wears all the time, he is the lead singer of the experimental band in the movie called the Soronprfbs, though arguably he might not be the films main protagonist, but that’s a matter of opinion.

In Frank’s first appearance in the movie he is silent, which can be perceived as intimidating, but when he started to sing he blew my mind into orbit!

I had never witnessed anything like Frank singing it was powerful and epic on levels I can barely comprehend, it sent static up and down my spine.

As the story develops we are guided deeper into Frank’s world, by the narrator Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) who is the bands new keyboardist and arguably the main protagonist, we discover new levels of the secret genius that dwells within the big head, aswell as the complex personalities of the other members of the band.

During the movie I would wonder why does Frank wear his fake head? Was he hiding from the world? Was he insecure about his physical appearance? Did it make him feel safe?

It is clear from the movie that Frank has a mental illness, but I was left uncertain at the end about why he chose to wear the head. Then again perhaps he didn’t choose to and it was a compulsion driven by the mental illness that he was born with.

Regardless of the reason, it posed an interesting philosophical topic for me.

Because Frank wears a fake head he is noticeably and visibly different, he stands out from the normal crowd, people would instantly notice him and think that there is something weird about him or question ¨why is he wearing that?¨

The answer is, that Frank’s fake head is a physical and visible manifestation of his mental illness.

But would those people notice him walking down the street without the fake head? I doubt they would of given Frank a second glance, he would look like everybody else just another face in the crowd.

And yet with or without a fake head Frank is still mentally ill.

It’s interesting then that when my brain connected these dots, I found myself a little jealous of Frank’s big head, surprisingly.

So why a sense of jealousy? Well for me personally the Head was like an unspoken statement that declared to the world ¨This is who I am on the inside, yes I am mentally ill¨ the Head is there for all to see, it marks Frank as someone who is different and he doesn’t need to explain the fact he is different.

And as someone with Asperger’s Syndrome and who has survived mental illnes and continues to work towards maintaining my mental health, I know what it’s like trying to meet new people, make new friends and ask girls out, with that knowledge in the back of my head and wondering how to explain it to these people that I have AS and occasionally suffer from mental illness? Would they understand? Would they choose to avoid me if I told them?

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