Paris is a more romantic city than Las Vegas, right? Believe it or not, a damaged
couple will meet and fall in love in Sin City, despite both having history in
the City of Light. At least it feels like love for a while. Their relationship
will take a dark turn in Matthew Ross’s Frank
& Lola (trailer
which opens tomorrow in New York.
all the struggling restaurants in Las Vegas, Lola walks into Frank’s on
Halloween night. They immediately feel a kinship between lost, lonely souls.
What starts as a likely one-night stand blossoms against the odds into the
romance of a lifetime. Even though Frank is somewhat prone to jealousy and
understandably bitter about the failure of his restaurant, things are good
between them, until one fateful day.
will be no getting around the fact that she cheated on him. However, once Frank
settles down, he discovers more of the surrounding context. Apparently, Lola
once again succumbed to the Svengali-like power her mother’s Parisian friend
Alan holds over her. Although he is a celebrated memoirist in Europe, Alan is
really a sexual predator, who raped Lola at a point when she was highly
malleable emotionally and psychologically. Or so she tells Frank. He will start
to have his doubts when he confronts the smooth-talking playboy in Paris.
Frank & Lola feels like two
entirely different films depending on which city Frank finds himself in. The Las
Vegas scenes he shares with Lola are darkly seductive and potently redolent of
lust and jealousy. Every development of their fraught relationship rings true.
In contrast, the pseudo-noir revenge sequences in Paris largely feel forced and
excessively lurid. They are just off compared to the moody but grounded Vegas
Michael Shannon just puts on a masterclass as Frank. He raises brooding to a
high art form and forges some believably flawed but viscerally charged
chemistry with Imogen Poots’ Lola. Unfortunately, she remains largely passive
throughout the film, which is problematic. Likewise, Michael Nyqvist more-or-less
hits the replay button on his portrayal of the literary cradle-robber in The Girl in the Book.
Arguably, the biggest star of F&L after Shannon is cinematographer
Eric Koretz, who gives the proceedings a sheen that evokes classic 1970s
hothouse dramas. He also captures the alien vibe of Las Vegas, especially for
those who are not interested in gambling. Ross goes for the sort of genre
ambiguity you often find in the films of André Téchiné, which is laudably
ambitious, but the smarminess of some of the Parisian scenes pulls him up a bit
short. It is flawed, but its adult sensibility probably makes it worth catching
up with on DVD or VOD streaming. For Shannon’s diehard partisans, it opens
tomorrow (12/9) in New York, at the Village East—and releases on iTunes.
Labels: Michael Nyqvist, Michael Shannon, Vegas films