I’m going to start this weeks review with a personal confession… I was actually a massive fan of the 2017 musical film La La Land starring Ryan Goslin and Emma Stone …. there I finally admitted it! Not only did I think the faked ending was cinematically tense and played with the audience emotions perfectly but I also really enjoyed the songs. The simple, high-energy, jazz-inspired songs were very catchy and stayed in my head for days after I had seen the film. I believe that this is why I enjoyed the new soundtrack to the movie musical titled ‘Perfectly Frank.’ This musical harks back to the Jazz music genre but unlike La La Land keeps itself heavily planted into the 50s/60s ideas of Jazz music. Despite the songs being taken from the movie of the same name which I personally have never seen, I am able to easily understand the plot and ideas of the show which is a sign of a well-crafted show.
The story follows the life of Franky (played by Connor Ne-mo Simkins) who deals with personal issues by reverting back to fond memories of the past. Franky famously has an incredible connection with his grandad (who in this movie is played by David Knopov) as they both share a love for classic 50s/60s jazz music and once Granddad is no longer around and Franky developed a fear of the vast, outside world (more commonly known as Agoraphobia) we are invited into his head to see life through his eyes and follows his eventual build in confidence. This movie is written and directed by Luke Rufo, who is an award-winning director who is famous for his work on documentaries for ITV and the BBC which goes to explain why this musical is so firmly based in the real world. The show definitely goes against the classical ideas of musical theatre and almost completely cuts out of the cheesy, over-the-top-ness of the genre. Instead, it focussed on more emotional and moving songs where the lyrics are the focus rather than massive dance numbers or ridiculous performances. I personally I believe this is due to it being a soundtrack taken from a movie not a musical in its own right. This is not normally the type of show I enjoy but I have to be honest, despite the slow pace of most songs, it was a very character-driven musical. This means it’s a very realistic musical that everyone can relate to, due to it being set in a familiar setting, which does make the whole show accessible to everyone. On top of Franky dealing with the loss of a loved one and developing a fear of the outside world he also becomes infatuated with a foul-mouth ruffian called Lily who intends to bring him out of his shell and back into the real world. It’s a love story tangled with a tale of self-improvement which is a side of ‘love’ we don’t usually get to see in movies/musicals which truly helps this one stand out.
What is fantastic about this soundtrack is that it makes sense in terms of the narrative itself. Franky’s granddad is a fan of 50s/60s jazz music and this style of music makes up the bulk of the soundtrack which is fantastic. It helps us to truly see through the eyes of the character of frank but also allows us to understand the true impact his grandparent had on his life. Throughout all of the songs, Connor Ne-mo Simkins was flawless. He is clearly an incredible performer who is perfectly suited for this genre of music and he showcases his skill throughout. The opening number titled ‘The day I met her’ is a super fun number that possesses all the energy people associate with Jazz. The joy is super infectious and does attempt to create the first movement to the narrative which is what is needed for an opening number. Another highlight for me was the song “Disrespected” with an ode from another character that talks about how she feels “Disrespected” (confident aye!) and walked over by everyone. It’s a very emotional song that was performed incredibly in this movie and is a very relatable topic for many people. There are only 11 tracks in this soundtrack which means the entire album only comes to 34 minutes which makes it a very easy listen.
Overall, Perfectly Frank is a musical movie soundtrack that harks back to the music of yesteryear with a heavy focus on character and lyrics that are relatable/accessible to the greatest number of people. If you enjoyed La La Land then you will love this film as they both share a passion for jazz-inspired musical numbers. I would rate Perfectly Frank as 4 out of 5 stars!