Robot and Frank – Movie Review

Frank Langella really brings it home in this entertaining, poignant and ultimately celebratory portrait of a retired cat-burglar at one of the most disturbing points in his life. 

He lives alone in a large house that he can’t be bothered to keep in order.  He has remarkable electronic devices to keep him connected to his children (James Marsden and Liv Tyler) that tell us that this is some time in the near future. 

He is displaying the early signs of dementia; he’s confused, irritable and isolated, rattling around his house doing very little.  His friendship with the local librarian (Susan Sarandon) appears to be his only connection to the outside world that he really enjoys and maintains.  He makes a trip to the library each day where she greets him with affection and understanding and guides him through the process of checking out new books. 

She’s in a bad spot too.  The library is being transformed by big money yuppies into a kind of wired club where books exist only online and interactive electronics replace human contact.  Not so surprising in the near future and Sarandon accepts it even as she mourns the end of books; it’s a terrific subtext and played with a subtle touch.  

His children are alarmed at Frank’s stubborn disregard for his well-being and begin assaults on him that upset his way of life and confuse him.  They are at opposite sides on the matter of care.  She has her ideas even though she lives far away and doesn’t know what his life is like.  He tends to bully Frank, but one day finds the right solution.  It comes in the form of a “robot health care assistant.”

His daughter is an anti-robot activist and he’s reluctant too.  She shows up to boss Frank around and disable the robot, even as she smiles and pretends to care for him not about her own agenda.  After an initial resistance, Frank has come to depend on the robot for a weird kind of companionship and besides they have a scheme brewing.

They are planning a final heist of the splashy jewels of the new library owners, yuppies with lots of money and not much common sense.   The intricate work stimulates Frank’s memory and will to live and from there, there is no stopping them.
The performances in this film are exceptional, truly topnotch.   Marsden gets to play his unsympathetic drama card, Tyler gets to plays hers and Sarandon is positively radiant and brimming with emotion and experience.  Langella’s Oscar worthy work is extremely powerful.

The world Schreier creates is obviously set in the future but it feels like right here, now, in the world around us.  People live and feel the same but the way we see it, their total dependence on electronics isn’t a bad thing.  It has the potential to extend and save lives. 

This is a feel good movie for the thinking audience.

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35mm Sci fi, Comedy, Drama
Written by Christopher D. Ford
Directed by Jake Schreier
Opens Aug 24
Country: USA
Language: English