About a year ago, I used to write a blog about watching a new thing on Netflix every week. I’m posting these up here. This was originally published on April 1, 2014.
I adore science fiction, but I am aware that many people do not. There are a variety of factors why people don’t like it and I would love to hear them because there is usually a film that will stop your concerns. So for the first film in our Month of Science Fiction (the capitals make it official), I chose a film light on the sci-fi. Robot and Frank tells the story of an unlikely friendship between Frank (Frank Langella), a man who lives alone and has some form of dementia and gets a health care robot named Robot. Robot and Frank don’t get along at first but once Frank realizes that the robot can help him revive his career of cat burglarizing, everything is smooth sailing. Their adventures are heartwarming and Frank, once wary of this technology, comes to see his robot as a friend. Now I don’t want to spoil the film, but the two of them get into some shenanigans that are cute and the ending of this film is a bit of a downer, FYI, which is what most great sci-fi films have. First time feature director Jake Schreier made this film over 20 days in upstate New York and dancer Rachael Ma was the person who brought Robot to life.
What I like so much about this film was that it wasn’t so outlandish. We do have robots that are able to lift and aid humans so the next step would be to have robots that care for sick humans, in lieu of a nurse or home aid. This film is set in a not too distant future; it was plausible and easy to get to know. This film also asked a lot of questions about older adults and technology. Now anyone who has tried to teach their grandparents to text or use Facetime knows that older adults have weird relationships with current technology. My nana is so amazed by Facetime and actually watches more Netflix than I do (her choices may be in a future month of Adventures in Netflix). Yet, in the beginning there is a bit of fear of the unknown. Those feelings were treated with respect and Frank did eventually ease into his relationship with the robot.
There were also questions in regards to robot rights, caring for you parents when they reach old age, and the use of technology to outsource human labor. While the film doesn’t dive into any of these specifically, it is obvious that the world that Frank and his family live in has the conversations, which is a great piece of world building.
This film is short and a great afternoon adventure if you are looking for a think piece that’s different. I may be a bit biased due to the fact that I made a short film about androids in undergrad so I have a love of nonliving people. Also if I had to name a robot, I would name him Harold.
UP NEXT: We dive into the world of celebrity obsession with Antiviral, the debut film written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg.