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Stars: Michael Fassbender, Domnhall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy, Tess Harper, Hayley Derryberry, Matthew Page

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

An oddball film about oddball people. There are some laughs and initial fascination with the characters, but the movie becomes more of a pain in the butt the longer it runs.

Jon (Gleeson), a would-be songwriter in a dead-end job in an English seaside town, enters the strangest, not to mention traumatic 18 months of his life when he spots a man trying to drown himself.

Turns out that the guy, who is rescued by police, is the present keyboard player of The Soronprfbs (you read that right), a group of seriously disturbed individuals headed (!) by Frank (Fassbender), who wears a large fake head (all the time).

Since Jon's songs are absolute rubbish (though he can play keyboard), he is obviously a perfect fit for this band of flakes whose grating, plaintive music is even worse than his: 50 years earlier, they might have been described as beatniks.

Frank himself is dominated by co-singer and theremin player Clara (a typical virago role for Gyllenhaal), who seems to resent Jon's growing influence on Frank's 'work'.

The developments regarding the break-up of the band, after Jon has invested his life savings helping them record an album that never happens, don't seem to make much sense, but there are just about enough off-kilter amusing moments to see us through to the mournful end. It seems to be a film aimed more at pleasing critics and festivals than the public at large.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Artificial Eye. Colour (unspecified).
95 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 07 May 2014