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: Frank Langella, Peter Sarsgaard, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Liv Tyler
  • 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 The Devil's Tomb

    The Devil's Tomb

    Cuba Gooding Jr. stars as one of an elite group of soliders on a mission to save a scientist from an underground lab where they encounter an evil presence

  • Film4 High Rise

    High-Rise

    Tom Hiddleston stars in Ben Wheatley's adaptation of J.G. Ballard's novel about the residents of a tower block

  • Film4 Chronicle

    Chronicle on Film4

    Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan star as three teens who test their limits after gaining superpowers in Josh Trank's found footage movie

  • Film4 Men In Black 3

    Men In Black 3 on Film4

    When Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is killed in the past by a time-travelling villain, Agent J (Will Smith) travels back to 1969 to save him, and teams up with a younger version of Agent K (Josh Brolin) on Film4

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