Matthew Ross, a former reporter for Variety and editor of Filmmaker magazine, has crafted an intense psychosexual drama with Frank and Lola, a film that might not necessarily be as believable as it wants to think that it is, but at the same time, features extremely strong performances from Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots, with an interesting and sturdy supporting cast filling out the edges, including Michael Nyqvist, Justin Long, Rosanna Arquette (fantastic!), and Emmanuelle Devos. Currently available via HD Video On Demand platforms and playing in extremely limited release, Ross’ downbeat and provocative film hits some disturbing notes of male jealousy and female rage, all filtered through a seductive visual style thanks to bold lensing by Eric Koretz and drum-tight editing by Jennifer Lilly and Rebecca Rodriguez.
The story centers on a hot and heavy relationship that builds between Shannon and Poots, and then comes crashing down when she strays, but for reasons that aren’t exactly so clear. I’m not sure if all of the story ingredients meshed perfectly; the film takes an interesting detour into revenge territory that was more emotionally interesting than logistically plausible. But Shannon is such a magnetic actor, with the ultimate thousand-yard stare that it becomes impossible to look away when he’s on screen. The sexy and alluring Poots yet again demonstrates range as an actress, giving a heavily internalized performance with moments of cathartic explosion that propels the sad and potentially dangerous narrative forward. This is a film that explores a relationship that becomes defined by infidelity and tragic events from the past, and how two people attempt to look to a better future together, all the while knowing that permanent damage has likely already been done.