Tag Archives: Pablo Berger

Never Was a Cloudy Day

Robot Dreams

by Hope Madden

The dearest, most charming, heartbreaking delight to be found on screens this summer, Robot Dreams finally makes it to theaters. This 2023 Oscar nominee for best animated feature is an exploration of relationships, and though children will be entertained, you should go see it whether you have a family to bring along or not.

The less you know about the plot (based on Sara Varon’s graphic novel) the more filmmaker Pablo Berger can surprise you, and every frame of Robot Dreams holds a touching surprise. Set in New York City of the 1980s, the film travels with hopeful introvert Dog, who finds friendship with Robot. Thanks to a mechanical miscalculation, Berger takes the pals and you on an emotional and genuine look into what makes and breaks a relationship.

Berger wordlessly articulates what few films have managed: friendship, with all its joy and pain; and friends, with all their tenderness and failings. In many ways, it’s as much about love and couple-hood as friendship.

The animation and editing are so masterful, impish but emotionally honest, that you won’t miss the dialog. And the soundtrack is pure joy— Earth, Wind and Fire fans, delight.

Fun, visually rich moments on roller skate and sleds, bowling and trick-or-treating will engage children, but the emotional richness in this movie is aimed directly at adults. Berger’s film is endearingly forgiving—perhaps more than I am. You’ll be frustrated, elated, worried, wearied, and overjoyed because you feel so deeply for these characters. And the film takes on a wonderfully surreal quality as Robot dreams.

Slyly authentic in its examination of how we grow, sometimes apart, Robot Dreams honors the pain of losing the one you thought was your forever home, but it also celebrates the memories made with the one who got away.

It can be hard to make friends, and it can be just as hard to be a friend. In Pablo Berger’s skilled hands, lonesomeness takes on a magical quality and friendship becomes an evolving surprise.