Generally favorable reviews- based on 65 Ratings
Oct 23, 2012This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. The world we live in, for people who suffer from Alzheimer's, must seem like a parallel universe, or worse, a planet they've never laid their eyes on, thereby making this degenerative condition a science fiction natural, with the disease's metaphoric possibilities inherent in the genre's tropes, ready-made for easy correlation. Frank, a cat burglar, to his chagrin, at the outset of Robot and Frank, robs his own house. A picture frame he picks up during the break-in reminds him of the life he forgot, and will soon forget. Hunter and Madison, now adults, posing with their father, yanks the epiphanic thief down from the ether and sets him afoot, albeit not surefootedly, on memory lane. The eidetic cataloguing of remembrances, a seemingly never-ending source of anecdotes, presupposed by people with hale minds who can access such memories, both happy and sad, in an eye blink, for the Alzheimer's sufferer, blinks shut, this mind's eye, so referential documentation, like a family snapshot, helps keep Frank's ongoing narrative linear, however precarious the psyche's ability for orthodox sequencing may be. Walking alongside the town's main drag, the sidewalk under Frank's feet, threatens to sidestep each footfall, since the pedestrian, in essence, could either be a time or space traveller, depending on the enormity of his temporal memory loss, given the day. Sometimes he's an alien; sometimes he finds a worm hole of his own making. It's the same town, Frank's face registers, but with differences he can't account for. On the phone with Hunter, the old man fends off the half-stranger's insistence that his condition is worsening. He brings up Harry's, a greasy spoon his younger self patronized as recently as a week ago. Of course, jewel thief's present is the real world's past, since his old haunt, the old man discovers, is now Blush, a boutique shop specializing in artisan soaps. Flashback, or flash-forward? That's the disorientation he feels, akin to taking a quantum leap in time, as it does for Fiona, an aging scholar's wife in Sarah Polley's Away From Her, who answers, "Well, that's shocking," when Grant, her husband, informs her that they've been living in their cottage for twenty years, not one. It's very isolation(the Hamilton, Ontario setting) has a vague science fiction feel to it, as if their home was a snowy outpost in post-apocalyptical oblivion, and they themselves were the last remaining couple on earth, and more pointedly, Fiona, the only living, breathing woman alive, especially after we learn about her husband's numerous extramarital affairs with his students in Grant's former life as a tenured professor. Fiona's condition razes the utopia that a remorseful Grant had built for his wife, leaving behind a dystopian realm of the Alzheimer's sufferer's own making, the place where she'll rematerialize, this parallel universe, once the disease consumes her former self. She'll be a copy. At a dinner party, Fiona explains, in regard to her relationship with the physical world, "I think I may be disappearing." The AD patient in Maureen McHugh's short story "Presence" once worked as an engineer at Gillette, a place where they make razor blades, a reference, presumably, to Occam's Razor, a principle based on the belief that the hypothesis which makes the fewest assumptions should be selected. In the past, this razor worked against the concept of parallel universes, but now, in due part to the rhetoric of MMI adherents, the belief that the relative state formulation has, in actuality, fewer constraints than physical theory, is starting to gain traction. Siding with the many worlds interpreters, McHugh's "Presence" establishes AD as a metaphor for parallel universes. A rarity for sci-fi films, Robot and Frank disguises its speculative elements in a pragmatic world. Its slice of life approach that recalls Robot Stories, in which the interaction between man and machine takes place in milieus so much like our own, it normalizes such fantastical technological advances as practice babies for prospective adoptive parents, and the ability for an android's synthetic "heart" to self-perpetuate love. But unlike the mechanical baby and office temp automatons, Frank's robot has no anthropomorphic qualities. Robot is not alive like 5 in Short Circuit. And yet, Frank humanizes the machine through the assignation of anthropomorphic traits, projecting his own bout with Alzheimer's onto the surrogate human, sympathizing with "it", when the robot tells him that somebody will "wipe my memory". It's no wonder Frank feels a kinship with the thing. The robot is a sort of coincidental sociopath, because similar to Frank, the machine, naturally, has no thoughts, no guilt, in regard to stealing. For Frank, pressing the robot's erase button is Alzheimer's, the whole of it. He'll forget him. And likewise, Frank will forget the librarian(Susan Sarandon). He doesn't want to.… Full Review »
Nov 13, 2014"Robot & Frank" 10 Scale Rating: 7.0 (Good) ...
The Good: A very different take on science fiction and robotics. An interesting concept in a very believable future setting. Frank Langella was amazing and I am surprised that neither he or this film garnered more attention. Perfect ending.
The Bad: Does drag on somewhat in the middle. It felt like the writer and director had a great idea and knew how they wanted to end it, but weren't sure what to do in-between.… Full Review »