Indie gem ‘Robot & Frank’ is acting showcase for Langella
After making a splash on the film festival circuit, “Robot & Frank” has opened in theaters nationwide, delivering a bite-sized but brawny acting showcase from star Frank Langella. In this tightly-focused character study set in the near future, Frank (played by Langella) is an aging man with memory problems. His son (James Marsden) gives him a robot (calmly voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) to act as his helpful companion, homemaker and nurse.
It turns out that Frank is an ex-con jewel thief, and he quickly goes from resenting the robot to using it as a safe-cracking accomplice. Add in a daughter (Liv Tyler) who favors robots’ rights, and a librarian (Susan Sarandon) fancied by Frank, and you have an amusing, insightful comedy-drama with all the marks of an indie charmer. Langella is better than ever – a master of realism.
A twist in the final act makes all of the plot lines connect a little too tidily, and unfortunately in retrospect it makes a good part of the film hard to swallow. Nevertheless, it poses questions about friends, family and life in old age that deserve an audience.