Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Empire's New Tom Cruise Cover
The Jameson Empire Awards 2014
Vote: The Greatest 301 Movies Of All Time!
Rebecca Hall:
My Movie Life

The actress picks the movies that shaped her
Mountain Dew Green Screen
Register Now to see X-MEN First Class!
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
Rebel Without A Cause
5 Star Empire Rating
Magic Magic
3 Star Empire Rating
We Are The Best!
4 Star Empire Rating
Love Punch, The
3 Star Empire Rating
Lunchbox, The
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Rebel Without A Cause
5 Star Empire Rating
Calvary
5 Star Empire Rating
Wake In Fright
5 Star Empire Rating
Stranger By The Lake
5 Star Empire Rating
Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?
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



CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Hollywood's Biggest Names On Their Favourite Films
Stars and directors like Nolan, Whedon, Wright and Ford on the films that inspire them

The Remake Report: Hollywood's Do-Overs Coming Our Way
The redoes, remakes, reboots, reworkings and reimaginings headed our way…

The Nebraska Playlist
Alexander Payne programmes a movie marathon for us

John Michael McDonagh Talks Calvary
The director on his follow-up to The Guard

More Found Footage: Another 25 Trailers That Tease Missing Scenes
Further sequences that disappeared between promo and final cut

Ten Career Lessons From An Oscar-Winning Producer
Jeremy Thomas on everything from The Last Emperor to Sexy Beast

Directors Joe And Anthony Russo Share 15 Captain America: The Winter Soldier Secrets
As heard on Empire’s special spoiler podcast interview…

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get Limited Edition Collectable X-Men Art Cards

Subscribe today and get 6 issues of Empire plus a set of collectable X-Men Art Cards for only £20!

Subscribe today

Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Just £25
Receive limited edition subscribers-only covers every month 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  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)