Next up for my Mental Illness in the Movies series for Film Inquiry, where I write about portrayals of mental illness, health and wellness (both explicit representations and interpretations) in film, I’m writing about 2014’s Frank.
Great art comes from pain. That’s not just a cliché, but a belief held by a lot of us. It’s present in those times when, amidst turmoil and uncertainty, people say that “at least the music is going to be good.” This, of course, leads right into the idea that mental illness and creativity are somehow linked. After all, wasn’t Virginia Woolf hopelessly depressed? Didn’t David Foster Wallace, Sylvia Plath and Edgar Allen Poe all suffer from mental illness?
The arts are full of names of creatives who battled with trauma and mental illness, with stories of abuse, depression, schizophrenia and suicide hard to separate from the art they created. But the idea that these things go hand in hand is worth examining. One film that delves into this is Frank, Lenny Abrahamson’s 2014 musical oddity.