Directed by Jake Schreier, Robot & Frank is a futuristic buddy movie about the unusual bond of trust between an ageing ex-con called Frank (Frank Langella), whose memory is faltering, and his VGC-60L robot helper (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard).
Frank lives alone and is slowly relinquishing his grasp on memories of the past.
So the old man’s techno-reliant son (James Marsden) installs a servant bot to do Frank’s bidding.
At first, Frank is reluctant to switch on the automaton, but once he learns that VGC-60L has no programming to distinguish right from wrong, man and machine carry out a theft at the local library, then ramp up their larcenous activities with wryly amusing and heartbreaking consequences.
“Are you in?” Frank wonders excitedly. “Only if you agree to eat a low-sodium diet from now on,” dryly responds his mechanised sidekick.
Robot & Frank is an endearing slice of techno-life, anchored by a terrific performance from Langella as a cantankerous old coot who finds companionship when he least expects it.
Susan Sarandon, Liv Tyler and Marsden offer solid supporting performances as friends and loved ones, helping Frank through the fog of his twilight years.
The plot is slight and the resolution messy but the central relationship is always touchingly believable.
Released: March 8 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas), 88 mins