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Robot and Frank | The Clapper Bored

Robot and Frank

I’ve been missing Frank Langella, ever since Frost/Nixon brought him to my fledgling attention, so I was excited about the prospect of spending another couple of hours with him in Robot and Frank.  And I wasn’t disappointed. Having been away from a leading cinematic role for a while, Langella is the focus point of this incredibly touching morality tale. It’s a film that is best when it focuses on Langella and his robot pal (and weakest when it doesn’t) and ought to remind us all just how good and charismatic top actors are, regardless of age.

Frank (played by his namesake) is a retired cat burglar who is starting to dement, much to the chagrin of his oh-so-busy children (played with irritating smugness by James Marsden and Liv Tyler). To counteract this, they deliver him a live-in robot who is designed to facilitate Frank’s needs and get him healthy again. Obviously, they are cautious of one another at first but develop a bond…yadda yadda, you know the score. It’s a simple, fairly fun premise but what it sparks is an interesting moral conflict between the human, whose mind is failing, and his ‘friend’, who isn’t human at all. Will Frank get too attached to his robot? Will he forget what it means to be human? Will he use the robot for devious pursuits, like autoerotic masturbation or cat burgling? Yes, no and sort of.

The film missed out on the major awards mainly because it’s lightweight fare (the sort of film to take your parents to if you know they couldn’t stomach Amour) but that ought not to be seen as a reflection of the overall quality. The pacing is off in a few places, but Langella gives a charming, timeless performances and the spark of friendship that he captures with his robot assistant is funny and endearing, and deserves to be seen.

A sweet, charming little film that won’t pull off many surprises but ought to warm your heart like bypass surgery. 

Title: Robot and Frank
Director: Jake Schreier
Starring: Frank Langella, James Marsden, Liv Tyler, Susan Sarandon, a robot.
Running Time: Not too long
Certificate: 15

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