Robot and Frank

Last night I watched a lovely little movie from last year called Robot and Frank. It was directed by Jake Schreier. I really loved this movie. I’m not sure if it will stick with me, but while watching it I spent a lot of time thinking, laughing, and crying.

Frank is an older man just on the brink of not being able to live alone anymore. His son makes a long drive to check on him every week, but it becomes clear that Frank is going to need a lot more help. Frank’s son, Hunter, buys a robot that seems specially designed to assist people like Frank. At first, Frank is hesitant to accept Robot’s help. He wonders aloud why he’s even talking to an appliance.

That all changes once Frank realizes that Robot isn’t programmed with any sense of morality. Frank, you see, is a retired jewel thief.

I won’t give away any more of the plot, but there are a lot of really nice moments in this movie. It deals with aging, family, technology, and memory. I love how it feels like a real, fleshed out world, even though we only ever see Frank’s town and a few of the people who live there. We get a taste of the human rights movement when we meet Frank’s daughter, played by Liv Tyler. We see the slight differences in dress and music. Probably my favorite detail is that all of the young 30 something characters have recently popular names like Hunter, Madison, and Ava. That detail, plus the movie telling us that it’s the near future, leads me to believe that it’s set about twenty years from now.

I have mixed feelings on how they showed the library. In the beginning it doesn’t even look like a library looks now, let alone one in the future! The only “future” detail is that they have a robot to do their shelving. There are no computers, no children or teen sections… it’s a dark, intimidating (but beautiful) library full only of books. A young group of people ends up buying the library and completely gutting it of books to make it a place for augmented reality, digital books, and community, which I can definitely see as something that might happen. BUT. BUT! There is never going to be a library that goes from being 100% books to 100% computers/technology. I understand that the filmmakers are trying to make us sympathize with Frank trying to deal with how fast time moves and technology changes, but it definitely felt a little too set up for me. It’s a shame, because the rest of the movie felt very organic and natural.

I wonder what non-MLS people out there think of it? It’s very possible that is just bugs me because I’m so close to libraries now.

Anyway, I highly suggest you check this out. It’s a nice SF movie that works really well.

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