September 30, 2014

Robot & Frank

Jake Schreier, 2012
Retired thief Frank (Frank Langella) has become a strain on his adult children Hunter (James Marsden) and Madison (Liv Tyler). When Hunter suddenly delivers a robot to the home in an effort to assist him with household duties, his father is at first quite resistant to the idea. But Frank soon forms a bond with the machine and finds companionship from an unlikely source.

Written by Christopher Ford, the unlikely friendship piece is based in the not-so-distant future. Sophisticated robots are completely attainable, albeit a bit expensive, but people still drive Audi's that are of similar design of today's models. Libraries exist, although on their way out as shown in the small town of Cold Spring (which was actually shot in the more populated Westchester town of Rye, NY). This whole Library on it's way out theme is part of the film, and actually kind of ambiguous. Librarian Jennifer (Susan Sarandon) informs Frank the facility is about to change form into some kind of experimental avant-garde locale that will still be a hub for reading, although it's not quite clear how. Not so important as the story really focuses on Frank and his struggles with himself. He is forgetful but also morally questionable. He is sympathetic while also at the same time quite stubborn and moderately manipulative. Frank is without a doubt a complicated character. His dementia is questionable throughout the film. His son Hunter, long skeptical especially after enduring his father's years in prison, assumes the robot will take a bit of the load off of his back. He is after all making long trips to his father's rural home and away from his own family. He is a straight-laced man, presumably eager to not repeat the same mistakes his father made.

The film is rooted in good performances, without the need for any real special effects or camera trickery. The dynamic between the man and the machine is believable, quite compelling actually. Certainly an study on our culture's dependence on technology, and the inevitable growing dependence. When the final credits roll and you see the stock footage with actual robots in the media and that addicting electronic song plays out, you will likely continue to sit there taking the last bits in.

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