DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story

Director - Steve Sullivan - 2019

"Greasy movie"
Documentary investigates how creative artist with multiple skills got trapped inside his papier-mache-headed character - in cinemas Friday, March 29th and then on VoD on Monday, April 1st

How does it feel to be trapped inside the body of a character of your own creation? This question has haunted many artists. Daniel-Day Lewis refused to leave the wheelchair after playing the protagonist of My Left Foot (Jim Sheridan, 1989). Heath Ledger locked himself up in his flat for a month after playing The Joker in The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008). And Anthony Perkins required psychological support after failing to break character, having played Norman Bates in various films. Chris Sievey’s case, however, adds an entire new dimension to such tragic predicament. He was literally entrapped inside a huge expressionless papier mache head that he created himself for his character Frank Sidebottom.

This amusing doc investigates follows the English musician and comedian from his early days fronting the punk band The Freshies all the way to his death to cancer in 2010. The music group encountered moderate success. Sievey also experimented with pretty much any media that came his way: painting, drawing, video, etc. But it was the watermelon-sized headed Frank Sidebottom that catapulted him to fame, making Sievey a recognised cult artist.

Through a combination of never-seen-before footage (mostly from Chris’s own personal archives) and talking heads interviews with friends and family members, we learn that Frank Sidebottom began to consume Chris Sievey, and to take over. Unbeknownst to the majority of their fans, the two men in the film title – a real person and a character concocted by this person – were constantly battling against each other. A typical case of split personality. Chris grew increasingly frustrated that he could not showcase his other talents. He thrived on creativity. It was both ironic and paradoxical that one of his own creations would become his handicap. He gave up music. He became a tragic artist. His marriage failed and he hit the bottle. He alienated his three children (one of them recalls having to look after his very intoxicated father, at the age of just nine). His extroverted personality switched into reclusive mode.

Frank Sidebottom blended the nonsensical with self-deprecation. He took tourists on a tour of his native town of Timperley (near Manchester), a place with no real attractions. The pointlessness of the tour was the real selling point. He threw beer on his papier mache mouth (despite being unable to drink it). He made absurd songs about tax (“tax sucks”) and about becoming famous once he’s dead (upon finding out he had cancer).

Being Frank: the Chris Sievey Story is interesting enough for nostalgic fans, but it’s unlikely to convert any new admirers. A lot of people in the audience laughed throughout, but I didn’t find the character neither amusing nor moving. I just found Frank creepy and eerie. Plus, I wish the film had investigated his legacy in more detail. Who has he influenced? How did he change the world of comedy?

The documentary is out in cinemas across the UK on Friday, March 29th, and then on VoD on Monday, April 1st,



"Greasy movie"

By Victor Fraga - 24-03-2019

By Victor Fraga - 24-03-2019

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based writer with more th...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
What happens when an independent female filmmaker with [Read More...]
Fifty years have passed since students joined forces [Read More...]

Read More

Dying Laughing

Lloyd Stanton/ Paul Toogood
2017

Alasdair Bayman - 12-06-2017

Comedy isn't always in colour: doc reveals that the life of stand-up artists and comedians is often fraught with sadness and loneliness - in cinemas Friday [Read More...]

Suggs: My Life Story

 

Alasdair Bayman - 16-01-2018

We all go a little MAD sometimes! The frontman of the colorful Camden Town act Madness isn't just a joy to listen to; his life story is also a real pleasure to watch - in cinemas [Read More...]

Benjamin

Simon Amstell
2019

Lucas Pistilli - 10-03-2019

Young filmmaker uses his own romantic life as the source material for his films, until one day one blossoming love changes the course of his career - now available on VoD [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *