Frank's children Hunter (James Marsden) and Madison (Liv Tyler) are worried about him, so the former decides to buy him a new gift; a robot butler. Averse to the idea of needing any assistance, Frank wants nothing to do with his new companion, however once he realises he can manipulate the machine into helping him commit robberies, he grows rather fond of Robot, and an unlikely friendship blossoms between them.
Langella turns in a quite fantastic performance as our protagonist, in what is an endearing and sincere portrayal of a man struggling to come to terms with growing old and coping with Alzheimer's. Langella strikes the perfect balance between poignancy and deadpan humour, equally as touching as he is both charming and witty. He encapsulates the more devious side to Frank's demeanour also, as you never once question his collusive, thieving history. Meanwhile, Susan Sarandon is impressive as the local librarian Jennifer, while Sarsgaard is also brilliant as Robot. Despite the automated voice, there is something essentially human about him.
Despite the relative inconsistencies in Frank's mental diagnosis, Robot & Frank makes for immensely enjoyable viewing, tackling poignant themes yet avoiding mawkishness in any way. There are several themes explored we've seen countless times over in film, but Schreier manages to make this feature feel unique nonetheless, in a picture that is perfectly, and intelligently heart-warming.
This review was originally published on 12 October, 2012, as part of our London Film Festival coverage.