Words Nicola Johnston
Every now and again a film comes along that touches your very soul. I sat down to watch Robot & Frank not knowing anything about the film, I had not heard about it or even read about it. For the next 89 minutes I was completely transported into the world of Frank.
Frank is played unsentimentally by Frank Langella (Frost Nixon) his performance is shatteringly detailed and utterly believable. Frank is a rather grumpy old man, who in his younger years led a very colourful life, he was a jewel thief, and spent many years in prison for his crimes. He is now alienated from the world, living on his own in a very messy house, he has no daily routine, no structure in his life and is suffering from memory loss, he comes and goes, he is sharp and coherent and then he fades again, his eyes vacant full of pain and frustration.
He has two children, Hunter and Madison, played wonderfully by James Marsden (Enchanted) and Liv Tyler, who worry about their father and about his memory-loss, but both have their own busy lives to lead, Hunter having to support his own family and Madison often away travelling for her work. Hunter shows up one day with a Robot butler, to help easy his own conscience but also to ensure that their father is better cared for; the Robot talks, cooks, cleans, makes the bed and even does the gardening!
Frank however is not best pleased with this new arrival. He is suspicious and disapproving of his new companion but then after some time he soon realizes that the Robots skills can be useful for more than just the daily household duties, a look of glee and mischief fills Frank’s eyes as he begins to plot his next adventure, with his newly found partner in crime!
Set in bucolic upstate New York, in the near future, Frank has a huge crush on the local librarian (Susan Sarandon) the library is being threatened by technology, books being seen as a thing of the past, she also has a Robot to help her, he is aptly named Mr Darcy, who is not as advanced a model as Franks Robot.
The film’s journey takes on many twists and turns and I am not about to spoil it for anyone, all I will say is that I urge you to see this film. The importance of good story telling is timeless and this film has it all. A beautifully well crafted story, incredible script, and brilliant performances all round. It is touching, funny, thought provoking, sad, we as the audience can all relate to this story in one way or another, the need for human contact, to talk, to laugh, the necessity to use one’s imagination, to share. This is a comedy, a drama, a tragedy all rolled into one; it is a study of human emotion, kindness, frustration, and loneliness. I must congratulate the director Jake Schreier on his first film, I can’t wait to see what he does next, he has a real eye for detail and the film is shot beautifully. Go and see the film and let it sweep you away into Franks world and enjoy it, relish it, every moment for life is short and none of us know what is around that corner, perhaps one day not to far from now we will all have Robots of our own to welcome us home, now there is a thought.
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