The FILM IN WORDS Netflix Film of the Week: helping you navigate the filmic minefield of the nation’s favourite video streaming service.
Words: Emmett Barlow
If science fiction is a precursor for science fact, then I for one hope that we veer drastically away from the anxiety fuelled prospect of a future filled with genocidal Austrian-man-mountain-machines and towards the pacifist route – where relationships between us and our toaster’s relatives are far less homicidal. If you ventured down to the local multiplex last weekend and watched the cinephile’s pick of the Valentine’s Day releases you may have fallen in love (sorry) with Spike Jonze’s beautiful and captivating robo-romance, Her. Our favourite streaming service has an equally delightful and charming companion to Jonze’s modern classic with the strictly platonic Robot & Frank.
In a not too distant future retired jewel thief Frank – played by Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) – lives alone, struggling with the realities of old age and wearing his son, Hunter’s ( X-Men’s James Marsden) patience thin. Fighting his son’s reluctant attempts to put him into a ‘Memory Facility’, Frank forms an unlikely relationship with his robot butler, voiced by Peter Sarsgaard. Initially cold towards his equally cold carer, Frank gradually warms to Robot’s routines and attempts to exercise his waning mind, yet it is Frank who comes to educate Robot, teaching it tricks and techniques of the trade in order to steal the jewels of his painfully contemporary and excessively patronising neighbours.
Robot & Frank doesn’t have the lasting impression of Her, and doesn’t steal light from the genre king and queens of Blade Runner or Metropolis, but this is an extremely warm and gentle film, that subtly deals with notions of human evolution as well as the ever advancing technological era. This film’s potential could easily have been lost in less talented hands, but Jake Schreier proves himself as on to watch in the future, clearly giving Langella bags of RAM to have heaps of fun opposite his metallic mischief-making friend.