Based in the near future, the recently-released film "Robot and Frank" uses the context of Alzheimer's disease to discuss people's relationship to technology, the sick heart of loneliness and the omni-importance of friendship. With a simple portrayal of the future, Director Jake Schreier places emphasis on the line walked between connection and companionship and the nature of the leap across. In doing so, "Robot and Frank" intelligently casts light on our simultaneous love and apprehension of technology while nodding to the timelessness of friendship.
As the film's protagonist, actor Frank Langella is superb. Portrayed as a retired thief and introvert, Frank's interactions are complicated by his progressive memory loss. Tired of his father's stubbornness, Frank's son (played by James Marsden) provides him with a robot programmed to aid him physically and mentally. This drive for mental stimulation, coupled with Frank's past and the robot's objective perspective, however, proves troublesome. Langella maneuvers his role perfectly, capturing both the frustrations of Alzheimer's disease and the inherent humor in human/robot interactions.
Playing the voice of the robot, Peter Sarsgaard manages to be mechanical and loveable at the same time. The robot's objective projections resonate to both protagonist and audience as honest and thoughtful, while managing to remain robotic and removed.
James Marsden and Liv Tyler play the roles of Frank's children, who seem to be located on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. Representing the practical and straightforward end of things, Frank's son is the one who purchases the robot for Frank. On the other end of the spectrum, Frank's daughter, despite constantly being abroad, communicates to Frank the more transcendent idea of pure human interaction. While Frank's location between the extremes of his children is the product of his past, the closing of these gaps is inevitably facilitated by Frank's relationship with the robot.
In the end, "Robot and Frank" is honest and heartfelt. Even with serious nods to the future of technology, and the detachment of an entirely robotic supporting character, this movie manages to speak to the sentiments of the lonely person inside of us all.