Posted by Cynthia Spataro on March 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm
Robot & Frank- the premise of the film is as simple as the title which tells the story of a man named Frank and his robot helper. Without much fuss over the futuristic setting, or getting too deep into the consequences of artificial intelligence, the film Robot & Frank is a charming tribute to the odd places we can find companionship in this life. The film is lighthearted in many ways, despite the realistic depiction of an estranged father and lonely man suffering from the beginnings of dementia. Frank is loveable, and so is his robot.
Frank is alone in his country home with an ailing memory when his son decides to hire some help to take care of his aging father. It just so happens that the help-for-hire is a robot. Frank is played by none other than the commanding Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) who plays the crotchety retired jewel thief that fails to forge good relationships with his grown son and daughter played by James Marsden and Liv Tyler respectively. Frank spends most of his days in a local library chatting with his only real connection, the librarian, played by Susan Sarandon. The juxtaposition between old and new, technology and tradition are clearly drawn here, and it creates the backdrop of the story for Frank and Robot.
The film really is endearing and sweet and not in a patronizing way, as we see Frank struggle to live his day to day life which could be so lonely until Robot shows up. We want to see them forge an odd relationship so that perhaps Frank can soften up and enjoy his days in whatever way he can, however muddled they may be. Frank could be your father or your grandfather, and that is the charm of this film, the very human depth of character which is only revealed when a very non-human character breathes new life into him.
Tyler and Marsden do excellent jobs of the son and daughter who are very responsibly trying to care for their elderly father but who struggle to understand his odd ways and secretive life. There is a lot to sort out for all of the characters in this film, and in a way Robot helps them to do just that.
It is easy to see why this film was a winner at Sundance, and why it would be one of those delightful films you stumble upon while scrolling through Netflix or Amazon. The characters are likeable, the story is interesting without being overly complicated, and will get you eagerly awaiting the outcome for Frank and his Robot.
Robot & Frank is about love, aging, memory loss, and modern technology, but ultimately about friendships and relationships. In the case of the Robot and Frank, it is an unlikely friendship that doesn’t necessarily culminate in a predictable ending, but will leave a smile on your face despite it all.