Robert and Frank
Director: Jake Schreier
Cast: Frank Lagella, Peter Sarsgaard (robot voice), Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Liv taylor
Country of Origin USA 2012
Sundance Film Festival 2012
Language: English 89 mins.
'It's not a multiplex must-have-it, it's a Sundance indie evening watch, the kind of film that you either love or hate. I loved it. It's not reaching for the Oscars or the Emmys, it's one of those films that are frequently missed and when you catch them they're a delight'.
Set sometime in the near future Frank (Frank Lagella) is a retired cat burglar with onset Alzeimers. Dippy daughter, Madison (Liv Tyler) is on a philanthropic trip to Turkmenistan and occasionally does a visual link from a far-off place and his son, Hunter (James Marsden), a successful businessman tries to take care of him from a distance but it's not going well. The solution is the newest have-to-have aide for older people,a robot butler. Frank's not pleased, but Hunter insists, the robot stays.
Frank has a crush on Jenifer (Susan Sarandon), the local librarian and when he learns a local developer is buying his beloved library for future development he decides to steal a rare edition of Don Quixote to win her affection and later the developer's wife's jewellery.
Frank gradually warms to the robot when he realises that it has a mind of its own and better still can be trained to help him in his series of planned burglaries. He's never been happier.
Jake Schreier first time film is thoughtful, moving and funny that looks at loneliness, how we treat elderly people and the interaction with artificial intelligence. Frank Lagella makes acting look effortless as he portrays Frank as a funny, cynical and charming rogue that you can't help but warm to and there are wonderfully comic scenes as he battles with Jake (Jeremy Strong) the ghastly yuppy developer that you love to hate. And of course Peter Sarsgaard who as robot's voice delivers some wonderfully witty lines.
The ending is a bit twee, a bit 'too American' for me but don't let that put you off. It's thoughtful, moving and funny. It's a hit movie.