Chef Noir: Frank and Lola Examines Love and Tragedy (and Cooking)

(Day 4 of the Las Vegas Film Festival)

By Russell D. Christian, Esq.

(Las Vegas) As readers of my blog recall I have been heavily promoting the film Frank and Lola due to the fact it was filmed on location here in Las Vegas then premiered at Sundance to very strong reviews. As such I was eager to finally see this film and was pleased with the result. Frank and Lola, described as a “psycho-sexual noir”, takes an unflinching look into the lives of Frank (Michael Shannon), a Las Vegas chef who strikes what he thinks is relationship gold when he meets the young, beautiful, and seemingly loyal Lola (Imogen Poots) only to find that she is harboring some dark secrets which complicate and ultimately consume both their new romance and his life.

Filmed on location in Las Vegas and Paris, director Matthew Ross and cinematographer Eric Koretz cleverly and artistically utilize various locations within the City of Lights and the City of Neon to reflect the emotions of the characters and their short but tension filled relationship.  Indeed the cities themselves were almost characters within the film, particularly in one scene in which the lovers discuss their future set against the sea of twinkling Las Vegas streetlights and the rose colored pinnacle of the Stratosphere. Other local favorites such as Frank’s Tiki Room, the El Cortez, and the Huntridge Pharmacy also get the noir makeover treatment thanks to outstanding lighting, cinematography, and the manic sensuality of the pair’s dysfunctional relationship.

Poots delivers the strongest performance of the film as the emotionally torn Lola, and Shannon was at his typical brooding best as the ever-in-control chef attempted to fix the problems of Lola’s past. While the slower-paced noir styling of Frank and Lola at times left me thinking the violence would escalate, it was that anticipation and nervous energy which drove Frank and Lola until it’s satisfying conclusion, one of the best film endings of recent memory. (no spoilers here, sorry!).

Frank and Lola is scheduled for a 2016 theatrical release through Universal and I would recommend it for viewers who enjoy intelligently written and visually stunning love stories in the style of both classic and modern noir films.