In the near future, Frank is a retired catburglar living alone while his successful son, Hunter, tries to care for him from afar. Finally, Hunter gets him a robot caretaker, but Frank soon learns that it is as useful as a burglary aide. As Frank tries to restart his old profession, the uncomfortable realities of a changing world and his worsening dementia threaten to take beyond what any reboot can do for him. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Robot & Frank opens nationally this week only at a limited number of select art-house theaters across the country, and most likely won't get the larger release it deserves which frankly is too bad. The film uniquely crosses across so many genre borders and can best be described as a dramedy meets a heist thriller. Robot & Frank is incredibly charming, funny and moving.
Writer Christopher D. Ford pens his rare tale set sometime in the ambiguous near future. He doesn't worry about flying cars or futuristic fashion, and keeps this tale grounded in a plausible future that is easily believable. First time director Jake Schreier reveals a mature ability to find the perfect pacing that develops the characters with ease and exact timing that turns the comedy bits into gold.
Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon, Good Night, and Good Luck) is nothing short of exceptional as the title character of Frank. He is hilarious and poignant as the surly ex-con who is starting to lose his mind, and radiates a million emotions across his face without saying a word. If this film could possibly find a larger audience, Langella would have a good shot at punching his Oscar card again.
The smaller supporting cast plays in perfect to establish Frank's present and his past. Susan Sarandon (Thelma & Louise, Dead Man Walking) radiates a beautiful sadness playing a lonely librarian and one of Frank's only connections to the real world. Liv Tyler (Lord of the Rings, Armageddon) and James Marsden (X-Men, 27 Dresses) are solid as Frank's grown-up kids who don't have the time to care for their father and his worsening condition. Best of all is Peter Sarsgaard (Jarhead, Garden State) who brings a perfect sense of comedy and real life validation as the voice of the robot. His dry wit steals the scene on numerous occasions.
Robot & Frank is one of the best films of the year. It's a mystery why bigger studio distributors are so afraid to fully get behind a film like this and push it out the mass audience, especially when you think about the $80 million that was spent on advertising costs for a film like Battleship alone. Robot & Frank is funny, exciting and touching. What else does a movie need?
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