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: James Marsden, Peter Sarsgaard, Susan Sarandon, Frank Langella, Liv Tyler
  • Director: Jake Schreier
  • Screen Writer: Christopher D. Ford
  • Producer: Galt Niederhoffer, Lance Acord
  • 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 Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

    Lily Collins stars in Harald Zwart's fantasy action-adventure, based on the first novel in Cassandra Clare's bestselling series for young adults.

  • Film4

    The Rise

    Luke Treadaway, Neil Maskell and Timothy Spall star in this Leeds-set heist caper, the debut feature from writer-director Rowan Athale.

  • Film4

    This Is 40 on Film4

    (2012) 124 mins 15 Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann star in writer-director-producer Judd Apatow's relationship comedy-drama, a 'sort of sequel' to his second hit feature, Knocked Up.

  • Film4

    The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones on Film4

    The first installment from Cassandra Clare's bestselling YA franchise starring Lily Collins.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Channel 4 announces major increase to Film4 funding

    Film4 funding has increased to a record £25m in 2016, with major new deals announced with Fox Searchlight and FP Films. Film4 will be backing new work from Lenny Abrahamson, Yorgos Lanthimos, Andrew H

  • Channel 4 Blog

    The 36th London Film Critics Circle Awards

    The Film4-backed 45 Years takes Best Actor, Best Actress and Best British Film at the 36th London Critics' Circle Film Awards Other prizes for Film4-backed films included Breakthrough Filmmaker for d

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

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

or Register

Share