Robot & Frank 2012 ★★★½

It’s an ultimate reviewer’s cop out (and a slight towards the director) to express a movie in terms of other, previous movies, but I can’t help myself: the best review I can think of is just telling you this is something of a cross between Gattaca and Lars and the real girl.

But, I should at least try. Robot & Frank is sci-fi of the best kind. The Future here is one that’s just around the corner, and the premise is not at all Futuristic anyway – an older, demented thief is paired with a mundane household robot that might as well have been replaced by “a teenaged truant, a granddaughter, or an infant koala bear,” stealing words from one disgruntled reviewer. Which is almost true, but there is an exception. I won’t spoil it for you, though.

What happens during 89 minutes of the running time is actually very little. This would have been the movie’s biggest virtue, if not for Langella’s strong, bittersweet, hard-to-rival performance. In between Frost/Nixon, Starting out in the evening and this, I’m becoming somewhat enamoured with the actor.

What we have here is a quiet, simple movie about facing obsolescence. Its pace and uneventfulness allowed me to reflect on the events while they were still on the screen, and I enjoyed that rare feeling quite a bit. (I am going to see Dredd 3D later today. Guess how likely I am to be allowed to pause and think then?)

That the eponymous robot is rather interestingly used by Frank is okay too. The revolution, if there’s ever one, will be slow in coming. Asimov’s laws have to start somewhere.

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