Critical Reaction to FRANK & LOLA
Written and Directed By Matthew Ross
Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016, where it was acquired and later released by Universal Studios.
Official website: CLICK HERE.
THE GUARDIAN/Nigel Smith
★★★★: “Dark and sexy, Frank & Lola is always one step ahead of its audience...a haunting examination of male obsession and domination, that also serves as a weird sort of love story...Shannon is superb, an alluring and dangerous lead, perfectly paired with Poots, who more than holds her own to finally deliver on all the promise she’s shown in films less worthy of her talents...Finally a movie that makes use of Michael Shannon's incredible sex appeal.”
"This is the first feature written and directed by Matthew Ross, and he makes every scene fresh...The ingenuity of Frank & Lola is that it takes noir situations and emotions — the lust, the dread, the voyeurism, the possessiveness, the lurch into violence — and says: Welcome to the stuff of an all too plausible modern relationship...It's poised between reality and paranoid daydream, it’s about the dangerous ways that love can go wrong, and it does the thing that noir was invented to do: It sucks you in."
THE NEW YORK TIMES/Jason Bailey
“Some actors seem born out of their proper time, and it’s a shame that Michael Shannon arrived decades after the glory days of film noir… but this neo-noir thriller is the next best thing, pairing Shannon and the great Imogen Poots in what seems a standard sap/femme fatale face-off — until the writer and director Matthew Ross digs out the humanity and complexity beneath those well-established types.”
THE CRITICAL CRITICS/Michael O'Sullivan
“There’s no way in describing what makes Frank & Lola work so well without using a vague, non-descript reasoning like “it feels just right,” but the truth is that it does feel just right. Frank & Lola is all about mood, about tone, and allowing one’s self to get lost in its dark, somber atmosphere. In this sense, writer and director Matthew Ross perfectly hits every necessity that such a story about self-destructive obsession and lies needs: The perfect cast, the perfect cinematography, the perfect score, the perfect dramatic points, and the perfect locations in which to let everything take place. For a feature-length debut, you couldn’t ask for a more promising start.”
CONSEQUENCE OF SOUND/Michael Roffman
“Part drama, part psychosexual thriller, part revenge fantasy, Michael Shannon’s latest platform balls up the dark mystery of Polanski, the vivid passion of De Palma, and the razor tension of Hitchcock for a savvy and meticulous 90 mins…Frank & Lola is an electric modern noir that thrives from indelible characters and a palatable style. As both screenwriter and director, Ross proves he’s a filmmaker with not just something to say, but somewhere to take us. Rest assured, our passports are ready.”
“[Ross] has crafted a complex psycho-sexual love story here, with hues of Jacques Audiard’s The Beat That My Heart Skipped, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation and Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris, among other titles.”
9 out of 10: “Shannon shines as Frank, who is easily one of cinema’s most inscrutable and indomitable characters since Lee Marvin’s Walker of Point Blank fame...Everybody from hardcore film fans to fair-weather movie-goers should watch Frank & Lola, lest they miss out on one of the year’s best movies so far.”
FILM INQUIRY/C.H. Newell
“Frank & Lola is presented in a mezmorizing noir tone. What [the film] does best is provide an affirmation of the capacity of the human soul: to forgive another’s flaws, to overcome those flaws in oneself, to find a way to keep loving despite them, and most of all to endure even after experiencing the worst of human behaviour...Ross tells a romantic story in Frank & Lola of two people hurting each other while only try to love the other as best as they know how. Further than that, he offers an antithesis to the rape-revenge sub-genre, all too often adopted as of late by many horror movies.”
8 out of 10: “Even if their relationship is toxic, for some strange reason you want them patch things up and live happily ever after. This is nuts considering how crazy they both are, but Ross makes it work…It’s a legitimately serious film about sex, something that’s increasingly rare these days…Ross has a really sharp eye, with it having a rich, sophisticated look that gives the film studio-level production values. The acting -- of course -- is superb...It’s a sexy, adult thriller that doesn’t pander and never feels artificial. This one will likely find an appreciative audience and makes for a promising debut for writer/director Ross.”
INDIEWIRE/Staff/“25 Filmmakers and Actors That Broke Through at Sundance”
“Michael Shannon is in almost literally a dozen movies this year, but we wonder if he’ll get a better showcase across the rest of 2016 as he does in Sundance movie Frank & Lola, and the man responsible, Matthew Ross, should get a ton of attention as a result. A former film journalist, Ross made a number of acclaimed shorts including Lola and Inspired by Bret Easton Ellis, but makes a striking debut with this feature.”
HOLLYWOOD REPORTER/Stephen Farber
“A haunting dissection of male jealousy…Other films have focused on sexual jealousy, but Ross and Shannon probe deeper than most into the poisonous, compulsive nature of male suspicion…Ross has described Frank & Lola as a neo-noir, and it does deserve comparison with similarly dark character studies (such as Nicholas Ray’s In a Lonely Place) from Hollywood’s golden age of noir. This movie casts a troubling spell.”
“Bewitching and intensely intoxicating...a seductive, romantic noir turned psychosexual drama from assured first-time feature director Matthew Ross…Ross is a major talent worth watching. He’s got an eye, a strong p.o.v, and the movie has many perceptive observations about the self-destructive perils of possessiveness, ownership and holding on too tight.”
THE FILM STAGE/Ed Frankel
“Frank & Lola, a noirish erotic thriller from journalist-turned-director Matthew Ross, finds leads Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots in top form. They excel as lovers in this tightly-wound psychosexual love story that has elements of the best of Eyes Wide Shut…This is a rich saga, bathed in atmosphere that disturbs as much as it engrosses. It’s certainly not a date movie, and all the better for it."
“Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots are Sundance’s most intense couple…Matthew Ross’s directorial debut puts sizzling and unpredictable chemistry front and center.”
BROOKLN MAGAZINE/Jonathan Stevenson
"Frank & Lola stays true to its sordid neo-noir roots while injecting them with fresh and sophisticated psychological insight and just maybe a dash of hope...As for Ross, he cleverly subverts a noir convention in engineering Frank’s evolution from crazy to sane rather than vice-versa, and never reduces Lola to anything so simple as a clichéd femme fatale. In the end, the audience vectors in on the heady insight that the way a man learns to live with his true love’s foibles is to protect her from them; it’s what he has to do if he can’t stop loving her."
BOSTON GLOBE/Ty Burr/“Finding Winners at Sundance”
“This feature debut from writer-director Matthew Ross teases intriguing interference patterns out of its various genres, moods, and locations…It’s great to see a Vegas movie without a single scene set in a casino, and when Frank & Lola hops the Atlantic to Paris…Ross uses the Marais district and the Place des Vosges with a similarly fresh and unnerving eye…Ross is one to keep an eye on.”
SCREEN DAILY/Tim Grierson
“The feature debut of writer-director Matthew Ross has a twitchy, moody unpredictability that keeps the viewer intrigued as to where the story may go next…Ross proves himself to be adept at conjuring an enveloping, grownup romantic mood that allows Frank and Lola’s love affair to burn with a palpable, volatile passion.”
“Frank & Lola is a layered, stylish psychosexual that marks a striking feature debut from director Matthew Ross after making several acclaimed shorts. Programmer Trevor Groth introduced Ross as a longtime friend and noted that he’d always been impressed with the deep understanding of film and cinema exhibited by Ross in his former career as a film journalist. ‘You’ll see all of that diligence and talent on display tonight in his terrific feature debut,’ Groth added.”
SPINNING PLATTERS/Carrie Kahn
“Ross’s film is always utterly gripping. The intrigue is palpable as the story examines issues of truth, jealousy, and trust. A romance at its core, the picture asks that age-old question: can we ever really know who we fall in love with?”
“An all-consuming tale of destructive romance [and] not for the faint of heart. Frank & Lola is an emotionally circuitous, sex-saturated film that’s sordid but realistic in terms of mistrust and fear of heartbreak…Luridly appealing.”
EYE FOR FILM/Amber Wilkinson
"This a film about the ambivalence of potential which can easily swing to good or ill. It also displays huge potential on the part of Ross, whose mastery of mood is already excellent...Ross has a tight hold of the film's emotional drivers, mixing moods like a heady and dangerous cocktail so that a disturbing tension builds. Viewer loyalties ebb and flow as he leaves us guessing who to trust."
THAT MOMENT IN/David Duprey
"A complex story about passions, misdirected and personal but always in the name of love, be it healthy or not...Frank and Lola is a shattering experience."
“Frank & Lola an Oscar-worthy noir with mass audience appeal...[It]maintains fluidity through brilliant execution from beginning to end. Cinematically, I think this is a perfect film...Frank & Lola is pure, raw filmmaking that is driven by its characters...This is one of those underground, surprise films that you should not miss."
With Frank & Lola, writer/director Matthew Ross has made a truly great piece of work...Featuring shades of Bret Easton Ellis, Charles Bukowski, and Raymond Carver, Frank & Lola proves an enthralling and intoxicating love story from its upfront beginning to an ending which proves a mix of melancholy and hope...Frank & Lola is the year's most truthfully brutal love story."
8 out of 10: "Matthew Ross (making his helming debut) captures raw nerve work from [Michael Shannon], allowing him to define the unsettling tone of this burning, disquieting drama...Its toxic charms soon become riveting."
WORLD OF REEL/Jordan Ruimy
"A visionary work from writer-director Matthew Ross...Now that I think about it, what Ross has done here is not completely different from the way Hitchcock toyed with his audiences many decades ago. What bigger compliment can you ask for as a filmmaker?"