I am often amazed at how many fantastic science fiction movies have been popping up over the past few years. While Hollywood has managed to sneak out a few good ones almost in spite of themselves, the majority of my favorites come from the independent scene. They may not have the budgets of the bigger studios, but what they lack in funds they more than make up for in great storytelling. One particular little gem that has been floating around Netflix lately is called Robot and Frank. I remember seeing it mentioned as coming soon on IMDB yet somehow managed to miss it actually being released.
It stars Frank Langella and Susan Sarandon in a beautiful story of an ex-jewel thief living on his own. His children, fearing that he can’t properly care for himself anymore, give him a robot helper. Initially the robot is seen as a nuisance since Frank wants to live on his own terms. The robot’s programming is to ensure Frank’s physical and mental well-being is maintained. As is going to happen in such a movie, over time the robot slowly starts to ingratiate himself into Frank’s life. Ultimately Frank sees a great opportunity to use the robot to do the robberies he no longer can. This is an odd sort of buddy flick between an old man and a machine. The reactions between these two is often quite humorous when you pit Langella with his witty one liners and the robots more even-measuredness. No matter how harsh Frank got with the robot you never heard him losing his cool.
It showed a great difference between humanity and machine. It takes you into a future not too different from ours. It is neither too bleak or overly optimistic, but life as it is. There a few things I found particularly interesting. With the rise of the digital era libraries are almost extinct. One that Frank visits often was bought by a private company to be preserved as a fashionable hot spot. Also our social causes become more entertainment than actual desire to help people. Both of these things I could see happening before too long.
Very few movies manage to capture a true and pure friendship. The fact they managed to do it between a man and his robot shows how talent the producers and actors are. It is nice to see a science fiction movie that doesn’t involve galactic battles or alien invasions. This story is much simpler ending in both sadness and joy. You won’t get a lot of explosions or gun battles, but you will get a beautiful story of friendship and family.