Sundance Film Festival entries are historically known for being more idiosyncratic than mainstream fare. All the same, the 2012 breakout flick Robot and Frank is pretty unconventional, even by indie cinema standards.
Oscar-nominee Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) stars in Robot and Frank as... well, Frank, a retiree living in a "near future," which is not so different from the year 2012 - albeit, it has robots and vehicles that look like a cross between a Smart Car and a Moped (among other pieces of sci-fi technology). Frank's grown son and daughter (James Mardsen and Liv Tyler) decide to not move him to a retirement home; instead, they purchase their old man a robotic caretaker (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard).
It's at that point where the Robot and Frank screenplay penned by Christopher D. Ford (Atom TV) steps off the usual path traveled by films that belong to the "unusual friendship" drama sub-genre, and starts to get... well, kind of wonky (but in a good way). Frank, it turns out, is an ex-jewel thief who's put off by some rich, well-to-do types who threaten the livelihood of Jennifer (Susan Sarandon): an elder librarian who, like Frank, is now regarded as an obsolete relic. Thus, Frank recruits his robot to assist him on a new series of jewel heists.
As the trailer for Robot and Frank suggests: what unfolds thereafter is an odd, but heartwarming, tale of newfound friendship, love - and robberies, committed by an old man and the anthropomorphic machine responsible for administering his enemas.
Robot and Frank earned lots of love from both casual moviegoers and professional critics, who attended this year's Sundance event. Langella (who rarely, if ever, turns in a subpar performance) has already been heavily praised for his enjoyable portrayal of Frank. Ford and first-time feature-length director Jake Schreier were also commended for their refusal to recycle an over-used storytelling formula - and instead, offer a refreshingly innovative spin on the buddy dramedy sub-genre. Finally, Robot and Frank is apparently one indie flick that avoids being obnoxiously quirky or ham-fisted, when it comes to the sentimental moments (apparently, it's a genuinely moving tale).
That's all to say, to anyone who constantly bemoans the lack of originality in mainstream Hollywood fare: you'd better at least consider giving Robot and Frank a look.
Robot and Frank begins a limited U.S. theatrical release on August 24th, 2012.
Source: Yahoo! Movies
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