Robot Dreams (PG ) Close-Up Film Review

Dir: Pablo Berger, Spain/France, 2023, 104 mins.

Cast: Ivan Labanda as Dog / Robot / Various (voice) Tito Trifol as Various (voice) Rafa Calvo as Various (voice)

Animation. No dialogue

Review by Carlie Newman

This animated film is beautifully drawn, very moving and utterly charming. It has no dialogue so is suitable for all the family except perhaps very young children. It deals with universal themes of friendship, loneliness and belonging.

Set in 1980s New York, Dog lives alone – we see him cooking micro-wave meals for one. He is lonely and purchases a Robot. He becomes very friendly with his Robot and the two companions explore parts of New York together. Dog and Robot enjoy their companionship and do everything together.

Towards the end of the summer, the two go to the beach. They fall asleep and upon waking realise that the water has made Robot rust so he can’t move. Dog is unable to help him and goes home alone. When Dog returns to the beach the next day, he finds it is closed until 1 June the next year. He tries unsuccessfully to break in and then returns home. Left all alone Robot has fantasies or ‘dreams’.

When winter arrives, Dog is alone again. Robot is found and taken to a junkyard by a monkey and broken into different pieces. He is found by a racoon who puts the parts of Robot together, using a big radio for his body. When Dog returns to the beach in the summer, he finds only Robot’s broken-off leg. Dog buys a new Robot called Tin.

Separate but never forgetting each other, the film moves on to a moving finale.

Not only do we see a development of character in Dog and Robot but also some very interesting drawings, beautifully photographed and directed by Pablo Berger, giving us a glimpse of New York in the 1980s. This Oscar-nominated film has amusing moments as well as giving us different views of friendship and loss even though all the characters are animals. Highly recommended.