The first shots we get of Frank, our titular character, are of a messy bearded, bald, nipple pierced man prancing around his home in just his underwear. He is smiling and joking around in a manner not unaccustomed to those of a much younger age, living life to its fullest and generally not giving a damn about those menial things that can often prove overbearing if we let them. It’s testament to the man that he ends up being so inherently engaging as a personality, because some of his views border on the racist and obscene. Nevertheless, he is the product of a slightly older version of America, one that he regards with absolute love.
The premise is simple enough: the director Tom Huntingford went to Arizona for work reasons and ended up with Frank as his landlord. Presumably he proved such a character that filming him was never not an option. Split into four parts, the film details a road trip that the two embark on, from his current abode to his childhood house in the woods. It’s interesting that the film takes this reverse route through Frank’s life; he starts out all angsty at home, berating Obama’s America and everything connected to it, but as we progress backwards Frank’s mood becomes a lot more melancholy and humbling; his childhood residence is obviously a saddening point in his life, the man proclaiming that he had a beautifully harmonious upbringing. It’s painful at these points, as it would be easy to forget that people are always affected in different ways, mainly through the retrospective element that life brings about instead of the continual happy-go-lucky mentality that he exudes.
That’s not to say that Frank is perturbed by events to the point of being disdainful at the current life he lives. He prances around in shady locations with fellow gun and motorcycle enthusiasts, dances with women young enough to be his granddaughter and exclaims that he wouldn’t be adverse to a woman taking advantage of him with a strap-on. Maybe that’s the key to this exceptionally likeable piece. Frank is certainly representative of a certain demographic of America on the exterior, but his confidence, sheer unabashed excitement, melded with his occasional tenderness renders him an individual, because at the end of the day, we aren’t the statistical values of a demographic pie chart, we are distinct people with likes and dislikes, differing emotions and varied characteristics.
I hope Huntingford had as much fun with Frank as he seemed to have, because there’s much to be said for sharing in the experiences of another unique personality, one in which I feel pleased to have been invited to join through this film.