EXCLUSIVE: Michael Shannon plays Frank, an ambitious Las Vegas chef. One night he meets Lola (Imogen Poots), an enigmatic woman, and they hit it off. Lola cheats on Frank. Frank mistrusts Lola. But just as he is about to turn his back on her, and head to Paris, he delves further into her hot mess of a life and learns she’s not what she’s cracked up to be. Such is the tortured relationship in Matthew M. Ross’ feature directorial debut, Frank & Lola.
Some first time filmmakers keep their story lines simple, but not Ross (who shouldn’t be confused with American Horror Story actor Matt Ross; also here in Park City with his sophomore outing Captain Fantastic). The former Variety reporter and Filmmaker editor 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.
Ross drew inspiration for Frank & Lola from a close friend, who endured a hellish relationship with a predatory boyfriend. States Ross about the angle he took,“I wanted to tell a fictionalized story that imagined the immediate aftermath of that real experience, before the character, Lola, is ready to confront what has just happened to her and is still acting out and avoiding full the truth of it all, and how that denial affects both her and her new boyfriend, Frank. I chose to tell the story from Frank’s perspective, who comes to the table with his own complicated history and emotional baggage, because I felt like that would be a more honest perspective for me to write from (as opposed to telling it from Lola’s point of view). I also had always wanted to tell something of a ‘what if’ revenge fantasy, where a regular guy finds himself, through an unfortunate set of coinciding circumstances, in a position of avenging a wrong, and does so in a way that goes well beyond the usual conventions of what would be considered sane or normal behavior.”
Parts & Labor producers Jay Van Hoy and Lars Knudsen initially mounted Frank & Lola and kept it alive through the lean and mean times when stars and financing fell in and out of place. The duo were previously behind Beginners which won Christopher Plummer a best supporting actor Oscar and last year’s Sundance entry The Witch. Frank & Lola was further fastened together by EPs Christine Vachon and Killer Films’ David Hinojosa, film financier and sales agent Kevin Iwashina, Ross’ manager Michael Diamond and producer John Baker. Through Iwashina, Lola Pictures, a Nevada-based financing and production company committed to the project. It was then that Ross decided to change the film’s setting to the opulence of Las Vegas — a perfect match that mirrored two outsider, mysterious protagonists. After Lola Pictures signed on, production commenced with financing from Robert Halmi’s Great Point Media. Stated Ross in notes, “The other financing had fallen through at the last minute, and Great Point, along with CAA’s Ben Kramer, who found them, saved the movie at the last possible moment.” About a year ago, Arclight films acquired all foreign on Frank & Lola out of Berlin.
Michael Nyqvist, Justin Long, Emmanuelle Devos and Rosanna Arquette also star in the film. CAA and Preferred Content are handling domestic sales for Frank & Lola. The film’s press and industry screening will be held on Saturday.