CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 12A
  • Comedy, Crime
  • 2012
  • 89 mins

Robot & Frank

Robot & Frank

Synopsis

A curmudgeonly retired jewel thief enlists the help of an orderly but naïve ‘carer robot’ to pull off one last heist.

About

Dementia is not normally a subject afforded much subtlety by Hollywood screenwriters. Often, a courtesy first-act hint that something’s amiss, by way of an elderly character forgetting where they’ve parked their car / set down their keys / left their wallet (delete as appropriate) is considered exposition enough for any and all forms of cognitive degeneration. From there, our afflicted protagonist can begin their rapid decline into mental disarray, while the audience is pressed to consider the ephemeral nature of existence — as made flesh by the trials of a crotchety old man played by either Richard Jenkins or Frank Langella.

At first glance, Robot and Frank is an unremarkable addition to this canon. Langella is present and correct (Jenkins, regrettably, was busy filming Liberal Arts when shooting took place) and our clue to his mental deterioration comes not just early but in the film’s opening scene, as his ageing ex-con Frank pulls off yet another successful burglary only to discover, when confronted with an array of familiar mantelpiece photographs, that he’s broken into his own home.

The film takes its leave from cliché, however, once Frank’s beleaguered son Hunter (James Marsden) furnishes him with a genial ‘carer robot’ (voiced, exquisitely, by Peter Sarsgaard) to help around the house, regulate his daily routine and generally keep the mischievous old rogue on the straight and narrow.

In lesser hands, the result would be a film in thrall to its own eccentricity, but first-time filmmakers Christopher D. Ford and Jake Schreier are wise to let the potency of their premise speak for itself, and the ethical questions thrown up once Frank sets about convincing his humanoid companion that thievery might in fact be beneficial to his health are all the more stimulating for their spontaneity.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Peter Sarsgaard, Liv Tyler, Frank Langella, James Marsden, Susan Sarandon
  • Director: Jake Schreier
  • Screen Writer: Christopher D. Ford
  • Producer: Lance Acord, Galt Niederhoffer
  • Photographer: Matthew J. Lloyd

In a nutshell

An ageing Frank Langella and a disembodied Peter Sarsgaard make for an unexpectedly dynamic double act in this refreshingly unsentimental geriatric drama. Robust and frank.

by Charlie Lyne

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Night Passage

    Night Passage

    James Stewart stars as a railroad man hired to secretly carry a payroll despite his suspected connections to outlaws

  • Film4 Raiders From Beneath The Sea

    Raiders From Beneath The Seas

    Scuba-divers plan a bank robbery on Catalina island, but not everything goes to plan when it comes to their underwater escape

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Gearing up for the Glasgow Film Festival 2015

    The Glasgow Film Festival programme is announced and features Film4-backed films Second Coming and Catch Me Daddy plus much, much more, from 18th February to 1st March It¿s almost time once more for

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance

    As Louise Osmond's inspirational documentary about an unlikely group of friends who breed themselves a racehorse is about to premiere at Sundance 2015, Catherine Bray catches up with the director for

Rent now on Film4od

Available to rent for £2.49

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share