Frantic (2021)

A group of young men approaching their 30th birthdays and who have frustrated theatrical aspirations take one last stab at becoming a success by staging a shocking play wherein they trap the audience and beat the tar out of each other (and their actresses).

Which they finance with a heist.


The premiere was a smash, but follow-ups suffered from casting shortages.

Look, this is one of those movies that is not shown in temporal order. The current moment (the putting on of the play) is threaded with the earlier stories of how the boys are looking down the barrel at ordinary lives (gasp!), with not a lot of romantic prospects, job prospects, and only a string of unsuccessful roles behind them. Then there’s the heist. Which goes wrong. But they still put on a show.

There’s a kind of surreal quality to it since, I’m pretty sure, you need to come up with your cash up front when you’re putting on a show (and if you don’t, fraud is easier and safer and involves less jail time than a heist), and they do the heistĀ on the day of the show and as I say, it goes wrong but The Show Must Go On. (Because if it doesn’t you have to refund the tickets.)

This is low budget, to be sure, and kind of dizzying in its story-within-a-story structure: What is real, what isn’t? As The Boy pointed out, there were clues that you might think were just sloppiness, but it’s actually a pretty tight story where the pieces all fit together at the end. Kind of impressive.

She seems nice. She might be the girl next door. Or she might be plotting your death.

We liked it. We found it interesting. It managed to do some sophisticated things without becoming overly infatuated with its own technique or cleverness, which is refreshing in its own way.

Also, apparently, if you want to be in the entertainment industry in Japan, you’ve gotta run criminal scams. I don’t mean wholesome things like pornography rings or fraudulent accounting like in the good old USA, but “call old Thai ladies on the phone and get them to send you gift cards”. And money laundering, but I guess that’s the commonality between us. The Lingua Franca, if you will of criminal/entertainment activities.

Anyway, good and interesting micro(?) budget film. Toys with you enough to be interesting but not so much as to be irritating.

Based on the director’s real-life experiences, says he.

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