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3. Robot Dreams © 2023 Arcadia Motion Pictures, Lokiz Films, Noodles Production, Les Films
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ROBOT DREAMS

I Elevation Pictures I June 7, 2024 I 102 mins. I

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97%

* As of 6/10/24

Producers: Ibón Cormenzana, Ignasi Estapé, Sandra Tapia, Ángel Durández, Jérôme Vidal

Directed By: Pablo Berger

Dog lives in Manhattan and he’s tired of being alone. One day he decides to build himself a robot, a companion. Their friendship blossoms, until they become inseparable, to the rhythm of 80’s NYC. One summer night, DOG, with great sadness, is forced to abandon ROBOT at the beach.   Will they ever meet again?

REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus - 6/11/24

RATING 4 out of 5

Robot Dreams will have audiences wishing it was the 21st night of September all over again as Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September” helps to bring to life this beautiful friendship between a dog and a robot, while grappling with profound themes of friendship, loneliness and connection in a deeply moving film full of great storytelling, stunning animation and wonderful use of music.

 

Animation too often gets glanced over as a genre for children and families, but there have been some truly incredible films within this medium of storytelling that speak to audiences of all ages. Whether it be the Spider-Verse films that have excited superhero fans of all ages, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio which told a timeless tale with the director’s signature darkness and heart that would not be one I would show to younger viewers, or some of more recent Pixar’s films like Inside Out and Soul that have left adult viewers weeping uncontrollably and doing some serious soul searching, there are stories within this genre that are universal and will connect with older audiences on a deeper and more meaningful level than the younger viewers that the genre is commonly associated with. And Robot Dreams follows in these film’s footsteps, in a dialogue-less film that has immense amounts to say about connection in today’s world and the joys and struggles that come with that, resulting in one of the most profoundly beautiful animated films of the decade so far.

 

Audiences are preconditioned to having dialogue in their films these days, but it’s amazing how much story and emotion can be conveyed without uttering a single word. Robot Dreams is a perfect example of that, conjuring up a beautiful and emotional tale and tugging on the audiences’ heartstrings without any dialogue. It’s not a silent film, as the animal characters make noises such as grunts, sighs, and other sounds to suggest their emotional state, but the story of Dog and Robot’s friendship plays out in an entrancing manner. Friendship, loneliness, and seeking connection in a major city is explored throughout the film within the context of a year in the life of Dog and Robot. The first twenty minutes of the film are pure bliss as you watch this new found friendship blossom in front of your eyes, only for them to be separated and forced to survive without each other for an entire year. The desire to reunite is strong within both Dog and Robot as they face life without the other, all building towards that unbelievably emotional ending that is bound to be one of the most memorable conclusions of any film this year. 

 

To help develop the narrative, Alfonso Vilallonga’s musical score conveysy the emotions of the characters. It’s a lush and romantic score at times as Dog and Robot’s friendship plays out in front of your eyes, while also able to strike truly melancholic moments as each of them pushes through the year in hopes of finding each other again. Vilallonga’s score is truly masterful, replacing the need for words and does the heavy lifting for the film’s storytelling. In addition, the film’s soundtrack helps to inform each scene, carefully picking popular music to bring Dog and Robot’s friendship to life. But it is the sublime use of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September” that is the greatest musical moment of the entire film. The song becomes an anthem for the story’s central friendship as they share that memorable day on the 21st day of September, and re-appearing throughout the film at key moments to remind the audience of the pure, carefree bliss Dog and Robot found in each other’s company. It’s helpful that the song itself is such a joyous celebration that inevitably spurs dancing and the occasional sing-a-long within listeners, ensuring that every time it is played in the film draws the audience further into the emotion of the moment. And the last time the song plays in the film, oh boy! It’s a devastatingly beautiful moment that captures the essence of friendship and what it means to care for another that is sure to give your tear ducts a workout. 

2. Robot Dreams © 2023 Arcadia Motion Pictures, Lokiz Films, Noodles Production, Les Films
5. Robot Dreams © 2023 Arcadia Motion Pictures, Lokiz Films, Noodles Production, Les Films

The traditional two dimensional animation style of Robot Dreams is comforting and nostalgic feeling, helping to transport audiences to this version of New York City set in the past. There is a vibrancy to the animation that captures so much of the characters and their emotional states in the animation, complementing the music to help tell the story and convey each character’s feelings at any given time. Whether it be the colourful first act or the darker coloured middle section of the film, there is never a frame of the film that does not support the artistic vision of how this heartfelt story is being told. In addition, there are some wonderful visual references to other famous films, such as the Halloween costumes of infamous horror villains worn by trick-or-treaters or Robot’s The Wizard of Oz inspired dream sequence to name a few, adding in lots of detail for viewers to find as Easter eggs sprinkled throughout this excellent film. 


The power of animation continues to be an artistic force of storytelling bringing to life meaningful stories that will connect with audiences on a deeper level as the art form, as done here in Robot Dreams. While not inappropriate for younger viewers, Robot Dreams is made for adult audiences who can appreciate and resonate with its important discussion of friendship, loneliness and life that is to take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride over the course of the film. Brought to life by incredible animation, wonderful soundtrack selections and a powerful musical score from Alfonso Vilallonga to allow the story to be told without dialogue, Robot Dreams is a poignant piece of cinema that captures the joys and struggles of life that will have audiences crying by the end as well as blasting Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September” on loop for days!

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