Film review | Robot & Frank – Retired cat burglar Langella finds an unlikely partner in crime

Frank Langella as Frank in ROBOT & FRANK

Offbeat buddy caper Robot & Frank presents us with two of cinema’s more unusual partners in crime: Frank is a retired cat burglar; and Robot is, well, a robot.

Played with cranky charm by the excellent Frank Langella, Frank lives alone in upstate New York, sometime in the near future, and is slowly beginning to lose his memory. Resolutely independent, he’s far from happy when, against the wishes of his globetrotting activist daughter (Liv Tyler), his lawyer son (James Marsden) installs in his home a hi-tech caretaker robot (voiced by a calmly reassuring Peter Sarsgaard).

His resentment changes, however, when he realises that there’s nothing to stop him from recruiting the robot as his accomplice and reviving his old trade. Their first target is the local library, where Frank has been indulging in a mild flirtation with Susan Sarandon’s librarian and where a local software mogul (Jeremy Strong) is about to replace the books with electronic versions.

The pair’s low-key crime spree provides some gentle suspense, but it’s the developing friendship between the grouchy ex-thief and the robot that will beguile viewers most. Skilfully played by Langella and Sarsgaard, the pair’s rapport is tender, funny and charming. And, along the way, there are some shrewd insights into ageing and loneliness, too.

In cinemas from Friday 8th March.

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