Robot & Frank (2012) Review

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Synopsis from Wikipedia:

Robot & Frank is a 2012 American film directed by Jake Schreier and written by Christopher Ford. Set in the near future, it focuses on Frank, an aging jewel thief played by Frank Langella, whose son buys him a domestic robot. Resistant at first, Frank warms up to the robot when he realizes he can use it to restart his career as a cat burglar.

I was lucky enough to catch this one this week – it’s only JUST come out in cinemas in the UK (I think it was last autumn in America?) and it looks like it has already disappeared from cinemas. Have to make way for crappy blockbusters, I guess! I’m still pissed off at missing Stoker as it also ran for only one week. But I’m sure I’ll be able to watch Identity Thief as much as I want – I’m sure that will run for months! Okay – I’m ranting & sounding snobby… I’ll move on!

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Robot & Frank is a very “me” movie. I go more for the indie types of films (Is this indie? I don’t know – the definition of indie seems complicated these days. I know many movies have an indie FEEL but aren’t actually indie). But I digress! I love indie, quirky, sci-fi, and simple uplifting “human” films. Robot & Frank ticks all these boxes, even the sci-fi bit. Guess the last one that managed all these things was Wall-E. I can’t even begin to find the words to describe just how much I love Wall-E. And I’m not going to try since this is a Robot & Frank review. 🙂

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I don’t tend to go into a movie’s plot much in my reviews because I like to remain spoiler free but I’m not giving anything away that’s not already pretty well known by saying that Frank is slowly losing his memory. That’s what this film is about – ageing, feeling helpless, love & family, and the loss of loved ones not through death but through dementia.

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This is a simple & heartwarming film that, thankfully, doesn’t go the full-on screaming, wailing, overly-dramatic route when it comes to the failing mental health of the central character. I don’t like when films are overly-dramatic – I don’t think real life is like that. These felt like real people and Frank Langella is absolutely fantastic as Frank.

Susan Sarandon is also very good as the local librarian that Frank has a crush on. The library where she works is being converted, the librarians are being replaced by robots, and they’re getting rid of all the actual physical books as there is no longer enough of an interest in printed books. So it represents replacing the old things that society no longer feels it has a use for – paralleling Frank’s ageing & feeling of being a burden to his children who have very busy lives but have to take care of him as his memory fails because he lives on his own & refuses to go into a home. See what I did there?! I almost feel clever. :-p His children are played by James Marsden & Liv Tyler – they’re fine in their roles but they don’t have TOO much to do and they aren’t really the focus of the movie.

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This is one of those movies that I knew I liked while walking out of the cinema but ended up liking even more after thinking about it for a few days so I’m glad I waited a while to do the review. (Actually, it’s even gone up further in my estimation just while typing this review out). I often find I like movies a little less after thinking about them for a few days so it’s great when it’s the other way around. I highly recommend this film if you’re into the elements that I mentioned above (indie, quirky, sci-fi, and simple uplifting “human” films). To be honest, you don’t even have to like the sci-fi element – that’s not important. It was just a very original way to tell a story about ageing & memory loss, becoming even more clear with the role Frank’s robot plays at the end of the film. If you’re expecting any sort of action because of Frank using the robot to re-start his heist career – don’t. I’m sorry – there’s very little action in this film. But what you get out of Robot & Frank is so much better than what you’d get out of an action movie.

My Rating: 8/10

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(And I’m too lazy to go back & change “ageing” to “aging” in this review because this American girl has a British phone that keeps “correcting” her American spelling!) 😉