Robot & Frank is the story of ex-con Frank (Frank Langella) who lives alone and is slowly relinquishing his grasp on memories of the past.
So the old man’s techno-reliant son, Hunter (James Marsden), installs a VGC-60L robot helper (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) to do Frank’s bidding.
At first, Frank is reluctant to switch on the automaton, but once he learns that VGC-60L has no programming to distinguish right from wrong, man and machine carry out the theft of a priceless edition of Don Quixote, which is the pride and joy of the local librarian, Jennifer (Susan Sarandon).
Emboldened by their escapades, Frank and his robot ramp up their larcenous activities with wryly amusing and heartbreaking consequences.
“Are you in?” Frank wonders excitedly. “Only if you agree to eat a low-sodium diet from now on,” dryly responds his mechanised sidekick.
Robot & Frank is an endearing, futuristic buddy movie about the unusual bond of trust between a man, who fears his days of excitement are far behind him, and his mechanised servant.
Jake Schreier’s film is a delightful slice of techno-life, anchored by a terrific performance from Langella as a cantankerous old coot, who finds companionship when he least expects it.
Sarandon, Marsden and Liv Tyler offer solid supporting performances as friends and loved ones, helping Frank through the fog of his twilight years.
The plot is slight and the resolution messy but the central relationship is always touchingly believable, orchestrated with minimal special effects so the story retains a deep emotional core.
Robot & Frank is an interesting film, that feels different without isolating a mainstream audience.
That’s no easy task, and all concerned here deserve real credit. It packs more into an hour and a half than some films manage in twice the time.
Starring: Frank Langella, James Marsden, Liv Tyler, Susan Sarandon and the voice of Peter Sarsgaard.
Robot & Frank (Cert 12, 85 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, Sci-Fi/Drama, also available to buy DVD/Blu-ray £15.99).
Special features include audio commentaries, an interview with director Jake Schreier and Frank Langella and the theatrical trailer.