As the world advances, things become obsolete; people feel redundant or unnecessary. The older one gets, the more frequent these realizations become. In Robot & Frank
, the latter is slowly losing everything he knows whether he'll admit it or not. But an unlikely friendship could change all that.
Set in the not so distant future, Frank (Frank Langella) lives in an isolated house on the outskirts of a small town. He's in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and is letting his home deteriorate. He enjoys his regular visits to the library – and the librarian – but even that is being taken over by modernity. His son (James Marsden) travels to see him once a week, but can no longer carry the burden of caring for him alone. Luckily, assistant robots are a common, even if expensive, alternative. Though the two do not get along initially, the robot eventually wins Frank over - with a little compromise. Frank is a retired jewel thief who decides to re-enter the trade as somewhat of a hobby, and the robot becomes his partner in crime.
This is a brilliant story about a man who craves the excitement of his youth. He often forgets the details, but he used to be somebody. He's even recognized by a star struck fan of sorts, played by Jeremy Sisto. In this role, Langella is impeccable. Genuine in every moment, the audience experiences each up and down with him simultaneously. When he's clearly lost in a fog or has regained the spring in his step, you feel the fear or joy too. That is the trademark of an accomplished and talented actor. However Langella is not just performing opposite a robot, but also the voice of Peter Sarsgaard. And he sounds perfect. Never really giving in to the emotions of the moment, his robotic voice remains neutral; a constant reminder, figuratively and literally, that he is not human.
Even though this is only director Jake Schreier’s first feature film, he executes the script very well. The camera is always in the right place, creating a pitch-perfect, poignant picture that is a joy to watch. He lets the formidable cast dominate the screen, capturing the knowing looks and fleeting glances. Moreover, the unexpected twist in the final act is revealed flawlessly, packing the greatest possible punch.
Robot & Frank
is a simply lovely film that shouldn’t be missed.
Director: Jake Schreier
Starring: Peter Sarsgaard
, Frank Langella
and Susan Sarandon