Film Review: Robot & Frank

Robot & Frank is a simply charming film. With great writing, directing and performances, Jake Schreier’s film is a real treat.

In the near future, Hunter is concerned about the health and well being of his father Frank, who suffers with memory lapses. Hunter gets Frank a robot to help him around the house. Retired jewel thief Frank is reluctant to have the robot around the house, until he discovers another use for his new companion…

The main reason that Robot & Frank is such an enjoyable watch is because the film is perfectly pitched. Schreier provides the right mix of  humour, reflection and fun. The film never becomes overly schmaltzy, too maudlin or descends into ridiculous caper. Screenwriter Christopher D. Ford has produced a story that hits the right note. The premise is simple yet very effective, with engaging themes.

Robot & Frank develops a good premise into a narrative that captures the viewer’s attention. Characters in the film are believable, and relationships are quite natural. The interaction between Frank and Robot are the real highlight nevertheless. Despite a leap in technology, it is very easy to see how this relationship would be fruitful to Frank. Their scenes together are well written and strike the right balance between being pensive and amusing.

The film features a great central performance by Frank Langella. Strong support is provided by Susan Sarandon, Liv Tyler and James Marsden. Peter Sarsgaard was a great choice to voice Robot.

Like many great science fiction films, Robot & Frank is not really about the technology. It may, however, have viewers wishing they had a robot of their own. Highly recommended viewing.

Robot & Frank is being screened at the London Film Festival in October 2012.

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