Saturday, January 21, 2012

When I grow old, I'll be perfectly happy living with a robot.

Salt Lake City officially opened its 2012 Sundance Film Festival Friday night with Director Jake Schreier's Robot and Frank.  This is a quirky film, loaded with charm that feels right at home in the indie vibe of Sundance.

The movie is the story of Frank, an aging man whose memory just isn't what it used to be. Tired of making the long trip to upstate New York, Frank's son Hunter gets his father a robot programmed to manage Frank's health and to improve the quality of his life.

At first, Frank wants nothing to do with the "appliance." But after a while, Frank learns to appreciate the robot, even developing a complicated, problematic friendship.  There's a lot to like about Robot and Frank. Frank Langella's portrayal of Frank is perfect with just the right amounts of grumpiness and vulnerability. James Marsden as Hunter is as always, easy on the eyes.  But he also brings a reality and attitude that I, as an adult dealing with aging parents, connected with on an emotional, personal level.

Schreier directs the story with a flat, no-nonsense style. That's not a bad thing. It gives the movie a sensibility that balances the potentially goofy nature of the story.  And screenwriter Christopher Ford delivers a tale with a slew of delightful surprises.

I also have to mention Susan Sarandon's portrayal as the librarian (who has a robot brilliantly named Mr. Darcy).  She added a lovely grace to the film.

With its themes of memory, loneliness, and the power of friendship, Robot and Frank is well worth spending a few hours in a darkened theater.

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