Robot and Frank Premieres in Sarasota

Frank Langella became an international star with the title role in Edward Gorey’s production of Dracula. Langella more recently won a Tony and Academy Award nomination for his leading role in the film Frost/Nixon.  Langella leaves behind his fangs and the Watergate scandal for Robot and Frank and takes on a role unique to the film world. Langella plays an aging father with Alzheimer’s who loses his memory, but gains a futuristic friend and accomplice for his jewel robbing schemes.  Langella is first resistant to comply to a life with “the Robot”, but when he reaps the benefits of having meals made, a clean home and someone to share in his scheming, hey, the future doesn’t seem that bad, huh?

We wonder how Langella was able to cultivate an emotional and true connection with the robot and at the same time make it authentic to the audience. Years of practice, I’m sure. The audience knows Frank is sold on his buddy, the Robot, as he admittedly gives in “You’re starting to grow on me” to which his cheeky companion replies back, “Thank you… it’s time for your enema.” The film follows their humorous exchanges and amusing adventures, which the audience at the Van Wezel was more than responsive to.

It seems we weren’t the only ones sold on Langella’s performance. We were able to catch up with Mark Famiglio, President of the Sarasota Film Festival, before the film who expects Flangella to win an Oscar for this. He also shared with us what distinguishes this year’s festival from the past : “We’re focusing even more on the independent artist. We are recognizing celebrity when it presents itself. In this particular case, Frank Langella, who deserves so much attention and I expect he will be an Oscar contender for this.” Famiglio also believed the film to be perfect for Sarasota: “It deals with issues that are germane to the lion’s share of the population. Not only because of the age, but so many people have been touched by these issues. It deals with it in a very compassionate and humorous way. There’s going to be a lot of tears. It’s a wonderful film.”

Well, I must admit, I did catch myself tearing up at the end of the film.  Langella’s performance is heartwarming and hits home in those moments where we as the audience find ourselves reminded of how we must cherish our memory and the moments in life we share with those close to us. Even if it is a robot that refreshes our memory.

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