Robot & Frank.
I don’t know how this movie slipped past my radar. Quirky indie film about a loveable Alzheimer’s patient who befriends a robot and then together they go on burglary expeditions. THAT SOUNDS AMAZING.
Frank (Frank Langella) is an Alzeimer’s stricken former cat burglar, who doesn’t want to be taken care of, so his two children (James Marsden and Liv Tyler) have him looked after by a robot nanny, who cooks and cleans. The robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) enables Frank to begin burgling again because it gives Frank passion and motivation. Also in the story is a friendly librarian (Susan Sarandon) whose library is under renovation from a group of young tech pioneers who are revamping the modern-day library.
Frank Langella is wonderful here but it’s really his relationship with Robot that is fantastic. Peter Sarsgaard does a fantastic job of giving Robot just enough personality to feel truly alive. Frank’s initial discontent with Robot is hilarious but it becomes touching as you see the relationship starting to form, when Frank really has no one else in his life to turn to.
The supporting cast of Marsden, Sarandon, and Tyler are all exceptional, giving excellent frames of reference for the budding relationship between Robot and Frank. It’s really their story but the supporting cast makes that story even clearer.
As for the arc of the story, it’s incredibly satisfying and touching as it nears its end. This movie is simultaneously witty and depressing, charming and visceral. It tackles the issue of Alzheimer’s in a way that is creative and unique, giving us a high-concept way to look at the issue and a way to distance ourselves enough to really see the problem. By placing this story in the near future, we’re able to allude to the world now, as we know it. It’s a genius tactic.
What doesn’t work?
Not much. This movie hit every beat I wanted it to hit. I laughed, I smiled, and I started to tear up at a few moments. It is both a science fiction story and a story about mental deterioration, and balances the two incredibly well.
This movie might be hard to find, in a world so reliant on streaming sites. If you can find it though, it’s a winner. You won’t regret watching this touching story of an old man who finds a new friend in the last place he’d ever guess. Well worth a watch.