In the not-too distant future, Robot & Frank sees retired cat burglar Frank (Frank Langella) become the reluctant owner/companion of a sophisticated robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard), who is programmed to take care of him when his grown-up children are unable to afford the time or effort. Initially resistant to the healthy lifestyle the Robot introduces to his daily routine, Frank starts to bond with it as they begin a collaborative life of crime – giving Frank a new lease of life.
Unlike some futuristic sci-fi films featuring artificial intelligence, Robot & Frank merits itself by being more believable than films such as The Matrix and in some parts, Wall-E. But with wireless televisions, the featured ‘conversion’ of the local library and the subsequent removal of books, this impression of what the future will be just seems scary as the notion of new technology erasing certain aspects of everyday life to keep up with the times is all believably possible – making this reality more believable than….say, Hill Valley in Back to the Future Part II.
The supporting cast members, from Frank’s love interest Jennifer (Susan Sarandon) to his ethically-challenged daughter Madison (Liv Tyler), represents other sides to his personality – making them quite invaluable in terms of highlighting the awkward subject that no-one really wants to bring up – the film’s slightly ageist perspective; the old meeting the new. Langella represents the traditionalist side of society through his skill in picking locks, habitual walking instead of driving and going to the library instead of buying e-books. His witty performance, resistant to the ever-changing world outside his front door, is relatable and poignant at key moments though not overwhelmingly melodramatic, which is a feeling that tends to come with ‘older generation’ films similar to this.
For a debut feature for director Jake Schreier and writer Christopher Ford, Robot & Frank is a sensitive and heart-warming story thanks to the strong lead performance from Langella.
Thanks for reading.