Director: Jake Schreier
Starring: Frank Langella, Peter Skarsgaard, Liv Tyler, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden
Running Time: 89 Mins
Synopisis: Retired jewel thief and divorcee Frank (Langella) lives alone. When his son (Marsden) finally has enough of looking after his ungrateful slob of a father, he purchases a robot carer to help Frank in his day-to-day needs. Reluctant at first, Frank soon begins to see the perks of having a robotic accomplice and sets out on one big score…
Easily one of the most curious and original film premises at this year’s London Film Festival, ROBOT & FRANK is a surprisingly heartfelt story that explores ideas such as old age and friendship, all whilst cleverly disguising itself as a buddy-heist movie.
Set in a recognisable yet technologically advanced future, the film follows Frank, a man who, we can tell from the get go, suffers from some form of memory loss (the exact medical affliction isn’t made clear). Forced to cohabit with a carer robot (played throughout in deadpan mode, yet imbued with wonderful personality by Peter Skarsgaard), Frank at first sees his new ‘friend’ as nothing but a nuisance, that is until he realises that the Robot can be used to aid him in one last job.
Most screenwriters would sadly envision this idea as a crazy screwball comedy. Screenwriter Christopher Ford instead uses this concept to tell a sweet and sad story about the fragility of the mind, and the inevitable problems and handicaps that often come with old age. The story bristles with humour, yet beneath it all there’s the nagging feeling that something isn’t right, that Frank isn’t as healthy or as lucid as he thinks he is, a feeling which adds a touch of genuine sadness to proceedings.
The heist element is perhaps not as interesting as the blossoming friendship between Frank and the Robot, but it does succeed in adding a genuine dilemma to the plot, and results directly in some touching scenes towards the movie’s end, which are easily some of the best moments in the film.
Bought to life by a fantastic cast, particularly by Frank Langella, who excels in the difficult task of forming a repore with an almost inanimate object, and with some simplistic yet inspired futuristic production design, ROBOT & FRANK is an interesting and sweet movie that use’s it’s science fiction elements as a mere backdrop to it’s truthful and honest look at how old age can and will eventually hit us all.
Check out our LFF coverage here.