22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
To be perfectly Frank,
This review is from: Robot & Frank [DVD] (DVD)
The first thing to say is that this film`s heart is in a good place, it`s not quite like anything you`ll have seen before, and I`d watch Frank Langella just doing the shopping or eating a meal.
It almost pulls off the trick of having, at his son`s insistence, a robot move in with Frank (Langella in dignified elderly mode - this vigorous, soulful actor was already 74 at the time of filming) and gradually gain his confidence, as well as a kind of friendship.
Where it scores is in allowing us to take for granted a near-contemporary world in which robots can cheerfully do the gardening or cook dinner. Langella acts with the robot (perfectly voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) as if it were the most normal thing in the world. There are no ironic `nudges` to the audience, and mercifully few moments of rom-com sentimentality, though the film does not avoid gravitating towards an inevitable soft centre, especially in its final scenes.
Susan Sarandon underplays and is lovely as a librarian whom Frank befriends - and thereby hangs a tale, which might have been made more of - with Liv Tyler making a too rare appearance these days as Madison, his daughter. (I wish someone would give Liv a whacking good role in a film, where she could show what she`s really capable of.)
The film has a nice, measured pace to it, and Langella is such a joy to watch that a certain lack of dramatic tension at times isn`t too much to put up with.
As has been pointed out elsewhere, the film loses itself a little towards the end, and the last few minutes left me unsatisfied, even a tad confused. It was left both too tidily wrapped-up and too open-ended.
Frank Langella is one of the most undervalued of American actors - though he`s a rather bigger name in the States - and the film is worth seeing for 90 minutes of this formidable, humane, haunting, slightly otherworldly actor having what looks like the time of his life. He`s very funny too - his timing impeccable - without ever overdoing it.
A subtle, offbeat film, flawed, but well worth watching.