Mute, tender, wise, adult and childish. Said like that, it sounds easy, but Robot Dreams, the fourth feature film by Bilbao director Pablo Berger, is a complex artistic achievement: an animated film that refers to characters with simple strokes and pure, deep emotions. A story about a dog, a robot and a city that transports the viewer to a place that Berger evokes with inspired melancholy.
Dog is a dog who lives alone in Manhattan in the eighties and one day decides to buy a robot for company. Loneliness was always especially hard in the sleepless city, where Berger lived for a decade. In this environment, the dog and the toy will discover a happy and loyal friendship that will be forged to the rhythm of September, a disco funk hit by the group Earth Wind & Fire, and a New York that Berger reconstructs through the pop iconography of an era that is resurrected full of nostalgia: from the interior of the apartment where the central character lives to the street and its fauna. and from the subway to the beach where the drama of this delicate and precious story will be unleashed.
'Robot Dreams': the exciting story of how the Spanish film that could win the Oscar for animation was conceived
Despite being an animated film, Robot Dreams isn't that far off from Berger's first two feature films. It is silent, like Blancanieves (2012), and retro, like her first film, Torremolinos 73 (2004). But above all, it demonstrates Berger's creative heterodoxy, that way of going it alone that unites all his projects.
The New York of 'Robot Dreams'
The drawings of Robot Dreams are endearing, they have magic, humor and feeling. Drawings that connect details of popular culture that flourished and disappeared during that time – such as the Tab cola can, a sports bag from Naranjito or the ubiquitous boomboxes of the breakdancing times – with classic cinematic references, such as the lonely Charlot and The Wizard of Oz, whose yellow brick road will be transformed into a floral choreography à la Busby Berkeley with a robot impersonating the man in a tin can and with the Twin Towers in the background, crowning the false mirage of the promised land of Oz.
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Minimalist in its form, like the four lines of drawing of the passage of the little birds that are born next to the robot on the beach, Robot Dreams leads the candidness of its illustrations and the fetishism of its nostalgia towards something as deep as the feelings of loneliness and abandonment and that inability to erase from a city the traces of the people who made us happy in it. Places and melodies to New York rhythms of the eighties, soul or salsa. Although the heart of the odd couple belongs to September and its famous introduction: "Do you remember?".
That's what Robot Dreams is about, remembering, even if it hurts: an old friendship, an old city, an analog world that dealt with loneliness in its own way and, as always, a song that ties everything together.
Directed by: Pablo Berger.
Cast: Ivan Labanda, Graciela Molina, Tito Trifol, José García Tos
Genre: Drama. Spain, 2023.
Running time: 102 minutes.
Premiere: December 6.
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