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Wednesday 12th of December 2018
Rachel Morgan 24th of May 2013 by editor 24th of May 2013
Robot & Frank (Un amigo para Frank)

Rachel Morgan previews Jake Schreier’s directorial debut

The plot of Robot & Frank, directed by Jake Schreier, has an instant connection with the 1999 Robin Williams picture, Bicentennial Man. The main storyline of each centre around a robot and his owners. However, the humans take centre-stage in this latest bittersweet film.

            The principle character, Frank (played by Frank Langella), is an elderly, nearly senile man trying to get through his daily life, alone in New York, sometime in the near future. His only respite is the local library with its librarian (Susan Sarandon), which is being transformed into a “community space” instead of a site that holds books. His two children, Hunter and Madison (James Marsden and Liv Tyler), try to visit and call when they can, but they do not often have time to see him. Hunter decides to buy his father a robot caretaker to ensure that he is keeping up his mental and physical health. The decision is much to the dismay of Frank, but the robot soon grows on him because it helps him access a forgotten part of his past—when he was a jewel thief— that he has not visited in many years.

            Frank Langella truly holds this movie together; without his skillful comedic timing and his “grumpy old man” attitude, the film may well have unravelled. Despite the strength of the supporting actors, they are insufficient to shift attention from Frank’s golden one-liners, and every one of his grunts and nods showed a new frustration or triumph, providing the film with the one essential dynamic character. The robot, by contrast, is not designed to be sympathetic, and doesn´t transform, as you might expect, into a beloved character. It remains a robot, flat and indifferent, but necessarily so to shine light on Frank’s humanity.

            The film focuses on the human existence and condition rather than venturing into science fiction. Refreshingly, there’s no robot threat to takeover the world, and although the film seems as if it could turn into a critique of technology at any minute, fortunately it maintains a different stance, examining true human experiences and feelings.

Robot& Frank(Unamigo para Frank) is released on Fri, 24 May. See also our interview with JakeSchreier in the June edition of InMadrid

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