Review first featured on the Doha Film Institute website.
Frank’s (Frank Langella) journey to old age is not a smooth transition. The ex-thief hasn’t quite got rid of his favourite illegal pass time. As his disorientating dementia rises, his son Hunter (James Marsden) struggles to keep up with visits and offers him a helpful robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard); a unique relationship is about to be formed.
In first time director Jake Schreier’s story, Frank forcefully resists being dictated by an ‘appliance’. The automaton is supposed to put order into Frank’s life; instead they become accomplices in this beautiful tale that goes beyond friendship.
Though Frank’s memory is falling apart, his heart still is healthy as he attempts to seduce librarian Jennifer (Susan Sarandon), and his mind is alert when organising thefts. He eventually accepts ‘Robot’ after he realises that it’s not programmed with innate morality, and he might as well get him involved in the precarious activity he enjoys the most.
The film is not a modern sci-fi. It is a charming representation on growing old in modern times, in understanding the inevitable and coping with what’s socially ‘right’ vs. what’s ‘best’ for the ones we care about.
Written with a lot of heart by Christopher D. Ford, this unpretentious narrative is layered with levels of interpretations of our near future, the digital era, and the way we deal with everything that ages – sometimes disrespectfully. It develops with smart and unexpected twists to a realistic yet delightful prelude.
Powered by a magnificent cast, Frank Langella offers a superb performance, we are mesmerized from the very first scene. Schreier’s promising debut gathered this year’s Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
“Robot and Frank” is currently screening in Doha at the Katara DFI cinema. For screening times and booking information, please visit here.