A beautifully ambiguous story of friendship, love and loss. At times heart-warming, at others heart-wrenching, this wordless fable explores what happens when the closest of bonds are weathered away by time and circumstance.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
Direct from this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Spanish writer-director Pablo Berger (Blancanieves, [NZIFF 2012]) adapts Sara Varon’s graphic novel, crafting a heartachingly brilliant dialogue-free animation that speaks to our universal need to find like-minded companions to share our days, as well as our ability to pick ourselves up, rebuild, and move on when life leaves us lonely.
Dog lives in a details-perfect illustrated version of early 80s New York City, the twin towers still framing the skyline—here is the home of anthropomorphised, bipedal animal residents of all kinds, going about their bustling Big Apple lives. Alone in his apartment, full of big-city meanderings and microwaved macaroni, Dog sees an ad for an android companion. After assembling him from a kit he receives in the mail, Dog is invigorated by the presence of his new pal Robot, who quickly fills his life with unbridled joy, unconditional friendship and adventurous antics. But, time passes, seasons change, and tragedy looms large.
Earth, Wind & Fire’s dancefloor smash “September” gloriously underscores the film in various iterations, a sonic reminder of both closeness and abandonment. There’s a steady undercurrent of melancholy as we follow Dog’s attempts to make heart connections and the wistful dreams of Robot—there’s also beauty, hope and truth in these perfectly executed graphic frames. — Nic Marshall
“Fashioned into moving form from the graphic novel by Sara Varon, this hand-drawn buddy dramedy preserves both the cartoon strip aesthetic and lack of dialogue of the source material for a delightfully bittersweet animated wonder that embodies the medium’s most purely cinematic qualities. Now the fierce battle for the title of the best animated film of the year has a new strong contender… With its soulful tin heart, Robot Dreams moves us to appreciate the fortune of having a precious pal. Whether for a season or a lifetime.” — Carlos Aguilar, Indiewire
A low-sensory session will screen in Auckland at Rialto Cinemas Newmarket on Saturday 5 August and in Wellington at Embassy Theatre (Deluxe Cinemas) on Tuesday 1 August. Find out more about our accessbility screenings at our NZIFF Access page HERE.