Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 12:51 pm 
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Psychosexual darkness swirls in Las Vegas and Paris

Is Frank (Michael Shannon) "pretty cool," as Lola (Imogen Poots) thinks, or pretty desperate? He is an American chef who dropped out of high school and saved up money making pizzas in Queens to go and learn cuisine in France. Matthew Ross's feature debut is pretty desirous of being bold and intense. It achieves that and a measure of oddity too. It piles on the emotions, using the age difference between this hotshot Las Vegas restauranteur played by the 41-year-old, worn-out looking Shannon and the aspiring fashion designer (Poots is 26) as the starting point for a plot focused on crazed jealousy and revelations of a twisted past. Its flirtation with neo-noir style leads to some questionable taste and there is some overly-tricky editing. The screenplay tips its hand a bit prematurely to Lola's background in sexual "games" and Frank's tendency to hate any man who even talks to her. But the important thing is that Shannon gets to be not just intense, neurotic, obsessive-compulsive, but sexy as well for a change this time, and Poots, after a succession of secondary roles, gets to chew scenery in a central one. Ross, who has a number of other filmmaking credits already, now may bear watching as a director.

Frank & Lola, 88 mins., debuted at Sundance, Jan. 2016. It was screened for this review at San Francisco, where it shows 3 and 5 May 2016. Universal bought it for $2 million and so it awaits distribution. This is a preview and an expanded review awaits release day of release.

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