Robot & Frank

First Hit:  An amazing well done film covering our near future with robots, family dynamics, and dementia.

Frank (played by Frank Langella) has early stage dementia. His son Hunter (James Marsden) lives 5 hours away and drives up to visit his father every weekend. It is wearing on him.

But the real message is that they weren’t ever really close and there is a obligatory feeling to Hunter’s visits. Frank’s daughter Madison (played by Liv Tyler) is traveling the world with a natural “do-gooder” sort of spirit.

Frank visits the library to get his pile of books and to also visit the librarian named Jennifer (played by Susan Sarandon). He fancies Jennifer and there is a hint of this feeling being returned. Hunter buys his father a robot that is programmed to take care of his needs, clean his house, cook his food and try to get Frank to actively use his mind to lessen the dementia symptoms.

Frank hates the robot at first but soon discovers that the robot has possibilities for him and uses the robot to assist him in taking revenge on Jake (played by Jeremy Strong), a “consultant” who is destroying the library by removing its books and making it all electronic.

The film’s setup is a wonderful way to explore our near future, the relationships between family members, how technology may provide assistance, and if technology cares (Can robots feel or sacrifice?).

Langella is sublime. I couldn’t think of a better person to be this character; part time cat-burglar, lost in the past at times, fully present at others and all the while keeping a sense of dignity and fragility. Marsden is very good as the son who cares about his father but still resents him and his childhood. Tyler is great as the daughter that just loves her dad and still remembers how to fence jewelry. Sarandon is wonderful as the librarian. Her tone of voice is perfect when she says; “you’re not allowed to be in here”. Strong is good as the guy with the role of an arrogant jerk. Peter Sarsgaard is the voice of the robot and it is mesmerizing. Christopher D. Ford wrote a superior script. Jake Schreier directed this team with the perfect tone. The leap of faith to robots of this type was perfectly believable.

Overall: Outstanding film and superbly acted by all.