Frank and Robot is a quirky little film from first time director Jake Schreier. The film is set in the future and unsurprisingly centres on Frank (Frank Langella), a retired jewel thief who is losing his memory, living on his own in a remote New England community. Enter onto the scene Robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard), bought for him by his son (James Marsden) to act as a helper around the house. However Frank's cat burglar instincts soon re-surface when he realises the potential of his new, rather unique companion.
You would be right in thinking this sounds like a bit of an odd, unremarkable sounding film, however don't be deceived by its simplistic plot, because underneath is a truly heart-warming, poignant story about life, relationships and growing old. Langella has always been a class actor and he is in fine form as the grouchy anti-hero, who reluctantly invites robot into his home. The relationship between Frank and the robot is a pleasure to watch, and inevitably the icy, insult ridden banter soon turns into a touching relationship between man and machine. Whilst this may sound a bit soppy, all credit goes to script writer Christopher D. Ford, who manages not to overdo it on the melodrama and sentimentality, but strikes a perfect balance with great touches of humour, drama and realism.
There are also solid performances from James Marsden and Susan Sarandon, however Liv Tyler pops up as Frank's daughter and cements my belief that the only reason she continues to be hired is because of the status of her rock legend father. I'm yet to see Tyler deliver anything that resembles a convincing performance in any of the films I had the misfortune to watch her in. That being said, the film on the whole is a fantastic unique take on the conventional buddy movie and a breath of fresh air amongst the usual Hollywood blockbusters. Robot and Frank is the kind of movie that film festivals adore, however this fine demonstrating of filmmaking shouldn't be simply embraced by indie festivals, it should be adored by a mass audience because it is a great piece of filmmaking.
All credit to Ford and Schreier, who together have written and directed an emotional, thought-provoking, touching film that will move even the most hardest of individuals. There are even a number of unexpected twists and turns to keep you entertained throughout the film. The last fifteen minutes of Robot and Frank are particularly tender and whilst the film doesn't necessarily have the ending that you might expect or even hope for, it's a testament to the honest and genuine nature of this film.
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