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'Robot Dreams' movie review: Achingly bittersweet rendition of Life itself

Updated on: 21 June,2024 05:13 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Johnson Thomas | mailbag@mid-day.com

'Robot Dreams' movie review: Robot Dreams is a bittersweet story about our intrinsic need for connection & companionship in the journey called life

'Robot Dreams' movie review: Achingly bittersweet rendition of Life itself

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Film: Robot Dreams
Cast: Ivan Labanda, Tito Trifol, Rafa Calvo, José García Tos, José Luis Mediavilla, Graciela Molina, Esther Solans
Director: Pablo Berger
Rating: 3/5
Runtime: 102 min.


Spanish Director Pablo Berger’s 2D animation film based on the graphic novel by Sara Varon, has a very simple and evocative premise. Being alone is bad. Having a friend is good. That’s the essence of it. The undercurrent of loneliness and the melancholy underpinning this work is powerfully real.


Set in the Big Apple of the ’80s, the New York skyscape of the pre-26/11 times, feels familiar enough but the inhabitants are different. The city is home to millions of anthropomorphized, bipedal animal residents going about their daily lives within the sight of the Twin Towers.


This is a touching story of a lonely dog named Dog, a New Yorker who is in desperate need of a friend. We see this amiable-faced creature eating his sad microwave dinners every night, playing pong to kill time and peeking into the living rooms of his neighbors only to spot families and couples blissfully sharing each other’s company. Surely, Dog can order a friend for himself can’t he? Dog decides to take matters into his own paws and orders a Robot after seeing an infomercial. Following which he and his robot friend start off as best buddies. Circumstances though, makes them part and go on their own separate journeys. The movie follows these two characters through their ups and downs as they accept the harshness of life’s outcomes and accept the reality of the path they are on now. There is no dialogue and with just music and sounds, the movie manages to show us what is going on and how the characters are feeling.

The animation art is eye-pleasing - simple and colorful. This silent 2D-animated flick resonates in its hand-drawn charm, with the city’s cosmopolitanism visualised to impactful effect. The visuals are typically retro NYC and there’s plenty of food and beverages on display too.  The dream sequences are charmingly represented. The episode with the family of birds was beautifully rendered and could be considered as one f the most memorable sections in the film. The finale is also quite beautifully represented.

The writing explores many themes that are simple, yet emotionally touching. Pablo Berger’s animation draws you in with its artful animation, and lovable characters. The audience can easily identify with Dog’s feelings of loneliness, and the desire for connection. The journey that Dog and Robot take is sad at times, but it holds up a mirror to real life as it is. You can’t help but root for them to have their happy ending but even though the end might not be what we were were hoping for, you accept the reality of it.

The film is punctuated by great music. “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire plays several times and aids in tugging at your heartstrings all through. Nominated for Best Animated Feature, Robot Dreams is a bittersweet story about our intrinsic need for connection & companionship in the journey called life.  Though the story feels overdrawn and repetitive, the simple engaging animation technique and heartfelt evocation makes this Spanish-French seriocomedy a worthy watch.

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