A caper film whose biggest thief is actually the inexorable flow of time, “Robot & Frank” is a terrific character study that offers the always-captivating Frank Langella the opportunity to stretch out a little bit.
Though Jake Schreier’s film, from a script by Christopher Ford, builds to a contrived climax, it offers food for thought: about the nature of friendship and the impermanence of memory. In the end, it offers a bittersweet final note, thanks to the carefully shaded performance by Langella, in his best role since the unfortunately little-seen “Starting Out in the Evening.”
He plays Frank Weld, a retired cat burglar living alone in Cold Spring, a town north of Manhattan. He lives alone in the old family house, much to the consternation of his grown children Hunter (James Marsden) and Madison (Liv Tyler). Madison travels for work and communicates by an advanced form of Skype (the film is set in the near future). Hunter lives a couple of hours away and checks in on his dad every week or so.
But what he finds is disturbing: The growing mess in the house seems to indicate that Frank is slipping into dementia. He wants to give the appearance of being sharp, but his reveries about the old days seem to melt with the present and he can’t remember to put the milk away after he uses it.
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