Robot & Frank

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(2012) ★★★

BBC1: PREMIERE Wednesday 20 May, 11.15pm

Divorced for 30 years, ex-con cat burglar Frank Langella lives in not-so splendid isolation in upstate New York in the near future. Surrounded by detritus, he pours sour milk on his Froot Loops and insists there’s nothing wrong with his memory. But it’s not just the present that’s troubling for Frank. It’s the past. The bits he can still recall. Tired of making the long drive to see his forgetful father at weekends, James Marsden presents Frank with a healthcare aid. The fully functional VGC-60L talking robot. “That thing is going to murder me in my sleep,” says Frank. “It’s more like a butler,” says Marsden. Actually, it’s more like an accomplice, as Frank revives his interest in planning and carrying out burglaries. Unlikely to be compared to the 3D robotics on display in Disney’s Big Hero 6, this wispy indie is a sweetly sentimental domestic drama dominated by the confused Langella’s refusal to go quietly. He began his screen career by playing attractive scoundrels and sadists (the writer in 1970’s Diary of a Mad Housewife, a suave Dracula in 1979) but he seemed to prefer the lights on Broadway. Rave notices and nominations for playing the presidential half of Frost/Nixon served to remind film-goers in 2008 what they’d been missing. Langella is an exceptional actor. He’s in his element here, interacting with a blank-visored robot (blandly voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) with a mixture of amusement and bemusement: “Why are you wearing a space helmet?” Susan Sarandon and Liv Tyler are basically there to make up the numbers, standing around looking concerned.

Certificate: 12
Duration: 85min

Other Showings Time & Date
Thursday, 21 May at 12:15AM Film