Robot & Frank
Winter 2013 Features series
March 17, 2013 at 7:00pm
March 17, 2013 at 4:00pm
Directed by Jake Schreier
Screenplay by Christopher D. Ford
Starring Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon and Peter Sarsgaard
Rated 14A ·
Robot & Frank
Directed by newcomer Jake Schreier, Robot & Frank is an often hilarious and heartwarming story about finding friends and family in the most unexpected places.
Set in “the near future” in the upstate New York town of Cold Spring, Robot and Frank opens like a thriller with a scene that neatly encapsulates much of what is to come. The film’s first image reveals someone expertly breaking into a house in the dead of night. A flashlight scans the room and suddenly, confusion, uncertainty, even terror flood the burglar’s face. This is Frank Weld (Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon), and he has just realized he has broken into his own home.
Frank, we soon discover, is a retired high-end jewel thief who specialized in finding ways into buildings where no ways existed. The cold light of the next day reveals that now, at age 70, Frank has difficulty finding his way around his own house. Long divorced and living alone, Frank is not doing well. He is not up to cleaning the place; the milk he has with his morning cereal has gone sour; and the restaurants in town he thinks about patronizing have gone out of business.
The only bright spot in Frank’s routine are visits to the local library, where he flirts with Jennifer (Susan Sarandon), the establishment’s last remaining flesh-and-blood librarian.
His two grown kids are concerned he can no longer live alone and are tempted to place him in a nursing home. Then, Frank’s son (James Marsden) chooses a different option: against the old man’s wishes, he buys Frank a walking, talking humanoid robot (voice of Peter Sarsgaard), who is programmed to cook, clean and get Frank on a healthy regimen.
“You might guess that Robot & Frank will turn into the sentimental story of a man, a robot and their groovy kind of love. Forget it. Screenwriter Christopher Ford and first-time feature director Jake Schreier are far too shrewd and plugged in to take shortcuts into cliché. Instead, Robot & Frank has an imaginative plot, with interesting turns and moments of suspense. It stays active and lively, while never losing sight of Frank and what he is experiencing. The movie touches on the preciousness of memory, human and artificial. And Langella, who has often been formidable, becomes lovable, both for himself and his cold, sly wit, and for who he is really playing here: He is playing the 20th century man. The last of them. Appreciate them now before they go away.” (Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle)
“Frank Langella is masterful as a lonely curmudgeon who rediscovers his purpose in life with some high-tech help.” (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times)