Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Done In 60 Seconds Competition 2015
Guide To Marvel's Infinity War
The Making Of The West Wing
Get 12 Issues For Only £25 Today
The perfect gift this Christmas
London Film Festival 2014
Our round-up of the galas, films and interviews
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Frank Langella
Peter Sarsgaard (voice)
Liv Tyler
James Marsden.
Directors
Jake Schreier.
Screenwriters
Christopher D. Ford.
Running Time
89 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Stations Of The Cross
3 Star Empire Rating
Concerning Violence
4 Star Empire Rating
Horrible Bosses 2
3 Star Empire Rating
My Old Lady
2 Star Empire Rating
Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy
3 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
5 Star Empire Rating
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
Nightcrawler
5 Star Empire Rating
Babadook, The
5 Star Empire Rating

Robot & Frank
Grand theft automaton


submit to reddit


Plot
Sometime in the near future, Frank (Langella), a retired cat burglar, is becoming increasingly forgetful. Worried that their father may be losing his marbles, his family buy him a robot minder, only to find that Frank hasn’t lost any of his criminal smarts.


Review
Robot  & Frank
Despite over 50 years' experience in the business of show, Frank Langella comes armed with surprisingly little baggage. Most will know him for his Oscar-nominated performance in Frost/Nixon as the disgraced U. S. President; older readers may recall his Dracula in the overlooked 1979 version. Other than that, Langella has stayed shy of showy roles, preferring the stage to the screen and character parts to leading men. All of which makes him perfect for this ingenious, bittersweet drama about a man with a lot of hidden depth.

Interestingly for a film about appearances, Robot & Frank takes place in the near future, though this is really to give Sarsgaard’s soothingly voiced Robot — a lovely, white, LEGO-like piece of design — the necessary suspension of disbelief. Other than that, there is little to suggest sci-fi here, other than the odd piece of new technology, like a futuristic smart car that whips through the upstate New York countryside, or a super-advanced version of Skype that uses a widescreen plasma TV. Everything else is rooted in the now: there is nothing in this world to ward against ageing.

But if it seems that this is going to be an issue-of-the-week movie in disguise, director Jake Schreier and writer Christopher D. Ford make some very shrewd choices. Though Frank’s memory is clearly going, and he really shouldn’t be living on his own, he’s a funny, cynical guy who wins our sympathies much more easily than his glib businessman son (James Marsden) and hippy-dippy daughter (Liv Tyler). And in his new android caretaker Frank sees not a mechanical life partner/slave for his encroaching old age and drudgery but the perfect partner in crime — one that doesn’t suffer last-minute nerves or leave fingerprints, one that can give this bored ex-con a new lease of life.

As the voice of Robot, Sarsgaard is wonderful — even rather poignant — but it is Langella that sells the movie as the shrewd, scheming Frank. The final twist (sly, but not unguessable), brings this bad boy down to earth, but Robot & Frank is a rare film with a floating moral compass and, as such, isn’t quite the cosy little parable that first sight might have you believe.


Verdict
Forget the sci-fi trimmings and sentimental pay-off — this is a gleefully subversive character study of a charming but unapologetic rogue.


Reviewed by Damon Wise

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Robot & Frank
Empire Star Rating

RE: Robot & Frank

Despite it being rooted firmly in indie territory, it's very light on kookiness. Thoughtful, moving, funny, and the sort of thing I usually find very hit or miss. This is a hit. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheMightyBlackout at 11:44, 27 May 2013 | Report This Post


RE:

A nice little idea, carefully drawing on a modern theme, while working as a gentle Sci-Fi/black comedy, with some sweet and funny moments. Thought Langella was really good fun, and that Saranadon was good in a supporting role. As the film came towards the end it seemed like the mertial was starting to struggle, but the twist at the end was well handled. 7/10 ... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 12:24, 12 March 2013 | Report This Post


Very charming, very sweet, but also tragic. Believable performances from all, including Robot. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Hood_Man at 23:08, 10 March 2013 | Report This Post


SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 48% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire's Jurassic World Trailer Tour
We guide you, Richard Kiley-style, through the secrets of the new park

Empire's Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies Covers
Five armies. Five covers. The eagles, dwarves, elves, men and orcs prepare for battle in our Peter Jackon guest-edited issue

Empire’s Peter Jackson Issue Subscribers' Cover Arrives
Five Armies, three elves, two heavenly creatures and one giant ape

Empire's Farewell To Middle-Earth Issue:
Guest -Edited By Peter Jackson

The countdown to Empire's stunning new issue begins here...

Josh Hutcherson On The Hunger Games Phenomenon
'I've done my fair share of young adult material now'

What Is A Squidward? A Beginner's Guide To SpongeBob SquarePants
If you aren’t already a massive fan, prepare to become one

Classic Feature: Gods Among Us - Robert De Niro
The heavyweight champion of character immersion, explosive rage and jawdropping subtleties

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)