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Mi amigo robot», una tierna historia sobre la soledad. «Tú y yo: la amistad más inesperada

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Candidate for the 2024 Oscars for Best Animated Film, alongside more renowned titles such as Nimona, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, and The Boy and the Heron, Il mio amico robot has captured attention for its way of narrating important and profound themes solely through the power of storytelling and staging, effectively using animation.

The film is based on the children’s comic of the same name by American artist Sara Varon, published in 2007 by First Second. Set in the 1980s in New York, in a world inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, a dog lives a life of terrible loneliness. Consequently, he decides to buy a robot with whom he forms a strong friendship. A series of events lead the two to be forcibly separated for a long period, during which they must find new paths to seek their own happiness without each other.

The Italian title Il mio amico robot diminishes the strength of the original title, which is Robot Dreams, dreams of robots. The dream dimension is particularly relevant: when the two characters find themselves alone, separated from each other, they both dream. They dream different stories, paths where they return to being happy. Here, the desire for a utopian search unfolds, where happiness is reduced to an abstract, intangible dimension.

In reality, the dog and the robot’s attempts to alleviate their loneliness are frustrated by the belief that the other is the missing element to achieve happiness, the factor that erases the feeling of loneliness. But as they will both discover, happiness materializes only in the strength to overcome traumas, to desire a future for themselves.

The conceptual framework of Il mio amico robot consists of micro-narratives within a larger structure. And perhaps, this is the most evident limitation of an otherwise valuable film. Especially in the second act, there is a feeling that the film drags on a bit without a real narrative direction. The film could have been shorter without affecting emotional engagement.

The director Pablo Berger’s choice follows that made for one of his previous films, Blancanieves, a film shot in black and white, in a square format, and completely silent. In a clear desire for formal experimentation, Berger has here chosen to tell his story by renouncing 3D and opting for a more classic 2D, without having his characters speak a single word.

Il mio amico robot remains a captivating film, as the characters, despite having animal features, are deeply human. Berger emphasizes small gestures of intolerance, lack of empathy, and disrespect towards others, increasing the sense of isolation of the two protagonists. Only through kindness will they find a way to finally be happy, despite everything.

There is also the choice to set the story in 1980s New York, where the director lived for a period of his life. On more than one occasion, the Twin Towers appear as a symbol of a forgotten past, the echo of a world now dissolved. But in this desolation, which like other fairy tales (Pinocchio, The Wizard of Oz) is filled with various forms of malevolence, the story of a dog and a robot who loved each other and found the strength to be happy teaches us that everything is possible when kindness and empathy dictate our actions.

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Artículo originalmente publicado en Fumettologica y aquí presentado en una versión editada.

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