Team Gleeson: It’s a family affair

gleesonWhoosh, a wisp of fire. Fiery red hair to be precise. First came Brendan, entertaining us with many rambunctious performances (I say entertaining like he’s done, he’s going from strength to strength). Then came Domhnall, son of Brendan, himself having enjoyed a rather varied career up till now, spanning comedy, romance, action, quirky indies and more.

Yes, Team Gleeson is a cinematic family affair, one that deserves recognition and perhaps hasn’t sufficiently had it yet. It’s time to celebrate this dream team, time to rejoice and revel in their acting prowess, and indeed single out some of their best performances and look forward to what they’ve got coming up.

TEAM BRENDAN
Brendan came late to the acting game, getting his break aged 34 in The Field. From there he’s continued to grow, particularly as a lead actor in the last five years or so with a string of career-high performances.

  • Braveheart
  • The General
  • Gangs of New York
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • In Bruges
  • Perrier’s Bounty
  • The Guard
  • Calvary


TEAM DOMHNALL

Interestingly, Domhnall has quietly become a potent and chameleonic force in the acting world, never putting in the same sort of performance twice. In the last few years he’s stepped up to lead roles with great success.

  • Never Let Me Go
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • True Grit
  • Black Mirror
  • Frank
  • About Time


What’s next for Team Gleeson?

Well Brendan has Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise out now and Domhnall has not only the intriguing Ex Machina out next year, but has also found himself part of one of the most sought after cast lists in years, Star Wars: Episode VII.

So things are going well for the team. Gleeson senior is maturing like a fine wine and Gleeson junior is set to go supernova in a galaxy far, far away. And the next time you see either of their names on a film poster, be sure to get excited and tell your friends.

Frank: what doesn’t kill you makes you stranger

A man wearing a giant fake head. A band full of oddballs, real oddballs. Is this a film about those characters we meet in life – if we’re lucky enough – that exist at the edges of normal?

Based on the real life experiences of writer Jon Ronson, Frank starts with Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), a talentless wannabe musician who, through a chance encounter with a band manager, gets to play keyboard in the supremely odd band with an unpronounceable name, headed by front-man Frank (Michael Fassbender). Job interview: ‘Can you play C, F and G? You’re in.’

Jon plays one gig then gets offered another and jumps at it, only to discover the band are heading off to the woods and will leave once the album is recorded.frank

Gleeson is a great fit for Jon. He needs to be likeable, but also a little offbeat. And, whilst Fassbender’s Frank is the enigmatic and mercurial figure that steals scenes – waving his arms dancing wildly, finding musical inspiration in everyday objects, addressing a German family in their native tongue – it’s Jon that drives the story.

This is his tale and experience of trying to fit into a group that themselves don’t fit into the world. And there’s the rub. Jon wants to be one of them but wants notoriety, which puts him at odds with the band, particularly the volatile Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal).

His efforts lead them to a festival in the US and it’s here where the film comes somewhat undone, losing the focus it had in the early half. Screenwriters Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan (the chaps behind The Men Who Stare At Goats) perhaps lost their way.

Or maybe it’s just the case that these characters work better in a tighter, simpler setting. Maybe that’s the point the filmmakers were trying to make – one echoed by Gyllenhaal’s Clara – but it didn’t entirely hold together leading up to the film’s final scene.

Tonally though, this movie is interesting and puts me in mind of Little Miss Sunshine or The Life Aquatic. It’s been described as a musical comedy which, in some instances, is accurate (it has music and comedy), but it’s perhaps more tragic in tone. Frank is the sort of role you might expect Johnny Depp to have played, so it’s refreshing to see someone like Fassbender take it on and add another string to his mighty acting bow.

Ultimately there’s a fair amount to love about this film and feels like you’d get more out of it on repeat viewings. It’s a little slow in places (some of the middle and most of the final third), but it’s highly original and quirky, albeit not hugely cinematic. And Fassbender can definitely do quirky, who knew. Now, if only someone could cast him in a Wes Anderson movie.