Robot & Frank Review

Robot & Frank is a must see bromantic comedy.

Granted, one half of this odd couple is the aforementioned robot, but it just goes to show humanity and friendship can be found in the most peculiar of places.

Robot & Frank tells the story of retired con-man, Frank, played by Frank Langella, whose grasp on reality is slipping through his once sticky fingers.

His James Marsden shaped son Hunter is so frustrated by Frank’s declining mind and constantly chaotic house, he buys a top end health-care Robot to look after his dad.

At first annoyed by his Robot’s persistent presence and regimented scheduling of his life, Frank seeks a way to get his unwelcome new toy out of the house.

Yet during their trip to town, the Robot shoplifts a sculpted bar of soap thanks to a lack of pre-programmed directives, and Frank realises he may just have the perfect partner in crime.

So begins Frank and the Robot’s journey into geriatric criminality, with said machine only agreeing to help after Frank convinces it that this project fulfils his hobby requirement and agrees to lower the salt in his diet.

Their first big target is Jake, the new hotshot in town who’s come to turn the local library and Frank’s safe haven, into a high concept museum.

As Frank plots his burglary, he begins to remember who he is and also discovers compassion and friendship in the most unlikely of places, his Robot.

Supported by Liv Tyler who plays Frank’s absent human rights activist daughter Madison, and Susan Sarandon as the town’s librarian and Frank’s love interest, Robot & Frank is one of the well-crafted films I’ve seen this year.

Much of the film rests upon the chemistry between Frank Langella and the Robot, played by Rachael Ma with Peter Sarsgaard on vocals, but the charming and adorable relationship they begin is both poignant and deeply comical.

Langella’s performance is so perfect that he imbues this Robot with a deep and profound humanity; equally incredible the physicality dancer Rachael Ma brings to the Robot that meshes so perfectly with Peter Sarsgaard’s voice.

Together they bring their machine to life with a tenderness and complexity that far outstrips most human performers.

The dialogue between Frank and his Robot is both witty and believable, often reducing the cinema I was in with the sounds of easy laughter; yet just as quickly as it explores the lighter side of life, so Robot & Frank delves into the heart-breaking reality of a man slowly losing his memory.

It’s this balance between comedy and drama that unsettles the text and makes director Jake Schreier’s film such a joyful and unexpected ride.

With a superb script from writer Christopher Ford added to beautiful direction and ensemble performances, Robot & Frank is an exemplary modern movie.

Shelton Lindsay

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Dates ‘n stuff

March 2013