Documentary Review: ‘Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story’

There was a film couple years ago called, Frank, that starred Michael Fassbender as a musician who walked around with his head inside of a bulbous paper-mached head. His character, based on musician Chris Sievey‘s creation, Frank Sidebottom, only told a small part of his story and, quite frankly, it was a mess. Had they focused on the actual life of Sievey, it would have been a much more interesting film and Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story is just that.

Chris Sievey was unique and creative in every single aspect of his life. Sievey, who was Britain’s version of Andy Kaufman, fronted multiple bands early one, including one called The Freshies. Even though they were doing well, his creativity created, seemingly out of nowhere,  the character of Frank Sidebottom. Frank had a huge paper-mache head, spoke in a nasally voice and said and did whatever he wanted, without remorse. Pretty quickly, Frank had his own band, his own talk show his own fan zine. He was everywhere and the character became so popular, he took over Sievey’s life.

Feeling the character had run its course, he decided to put him to bed. He ventured into animation and was quite successful but Frank never really went away. Sievey decided to bring him back and laid out a five year plan for basically, world domination.

Unfortunately, liked Andy Kaufman, his life was cut short by cancer.

Sievey’s life, much like his career, was a roller coaster ride. He was married and divorced, an alcoholic and was so meticulous in his work that he spent hours and hours working on the most my minute details of things most people would never notice. His brain was always working overtime.

For someone who isn’t familiar with the character of Frank Sidebottom or Sievey himself, the documentary feels like it takes a little while to get started, especially going over his early years. But once they get into the creation of Frank and how the character took over his life, that’s when things get really interesting, even for someone unfamiliar with the character.

It’s a shame that he wasn’t as big a name here in the states as he was in Britain.

Director Steve Sullivan, uses old footage and Sievey’s own archives to paint an inspiring story of someone, who, no matter what the consequences, forged his own path in the world.

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