'Robot & Frank' a sweet character study on aging, memory, loss
Jake Schreier - Director, Samuel Goldwyn Films
"ROBOT & FRANK" — ★★★ — Rachael Ma; Joshua Ormond; Frank Langella; Liv Tyler; Jeremy Strong; Liev Schreiber; James Marsden; Peter Saarsgard; Bonnie Bentley; Susan Sarandon; PG-13 (some language); Broadway
Set "in the near future," but grappling with issues that are all about the past — reclaiming it, struggling to remember it, letting it go — "Robot & Frank" is a small, sweet character study that affords Frank Langella another opportunity to shine.
The great veteran actor is a retired cat burglar, living comfortably, and living alone, in upstate New York. But his memory is slipping, alarmingly: When his son, Hunter (James Marsden), checks in, Frank asks how Princeton is — a college his son attended a decade earlier, before he married and took a job.
And when Frank walks to town to his favorite restaurant, he seems shocked to see it has become a gift shop. It has been that way for years, and yet he's always surprised.
Frank's daughter, Madison (Liv Tyler), is wandering the world, and Frank's wife long ago left him. And so Hunter, burdened with responsibility and worry, arrives one day with a gift: a robot to keep house, cook meals, keep Frank company — and keep Frank on a regimen that might sharpen his wits, make him more mindful.
The robot, with its arms, legs, and rotating, visored head (and a voice by Peter Sarsgaard), is not welcome at first. But Frank cautiously takes to the little white machine, and soon he has got it programmed to help him with a heist. There are rare books at the local library — including a valuable Don Quixote — and Frank and his ambulatory accomplice are going to get them.
Langella plays things just right, with a gloss of sadness, confusion, and fright, but always with a glint of irony, too. (He could have been Meryl Streep's roomie as she wandered, disoriented, as the retired Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.) And when Frank goes into the library to case the joint, he's also there to flirt with the librarian, a generous and gentle Susan Sarandon, hiding behind her eyeglasses and her regrets.
Robot & Frank, written by Christopher D. Ford and directed by first-timer Jake Schreier, has a quiet whimsy about it, at the same time the film explores the challenging issues of aging, and loss, and, yes, memory loss. It's an Alzheimer's allegory, full of humanity, heart and humor.
"Robot & Frank" is rated PG-13 for some language; running time: 90 minutes.
- National Spelling Bee co-champions include...
- The Clean Cut: 10-year-old girl performs on...
- Movie review: Beckinsale showcases classic...
- Chris Hicks: Gear up for Memorial Day by...
- 'Odysseo' extends stay in Utah to June 13
- A black-and-white, sometimes Technicolor...
- Why would anyone want to keep up with the...
- Video game review: 'Star Fox Zero' is a fun...
- Newlywed viral Star Wars couple: 'The... 4
- Movie review: Overstuffed 'X-Men:... 2
- Chris Hicks: Gear up for Memorial Day... 1
- National Spelling Bee co-champions... 0
- The Clean Cut: 10-year-old girl... 0
- Movie review: Beckinsale showcases... 0
- 'Odysseo' extends stay in Utah to June 13 0
- A black-and-white, sometimes... 0