“My friend Robot” or the crossed destiny of a furry beast and a scrap metal creature

“My friend Robot” or the crossed destiny of a furry beast and a scrap metal creature

Movies

Pablo Berger likes a taste for risk. And, therefore, refuse nothing. After two comedies ( Torremolinos 73 , in 2003; Abracadabra , in 2018) and a silent, black and white version of Snow White, set in the burning lands of pre-Franco Andalusia ( Blancanieves , 2012), the Spanish filmmaker is back at the cinema with, this time, an animated film. Genre which, at the age of 60, he tried for the first time by adapting the American comic strip Robot Dreams, by Sara Varon (Paperback, 2007, untranslated).

The foray into this unexplored terrain was successful, the attempt was transformed. As soon as it was completed, My Friend Robot was indeed seduced. In May, he walked the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in a “special session” and in June received the Grand Prix Contrechamps – section reserved for new writings – at the Annecy Festival.

Spirit faithful to the graphic novel

Old-fashioned charm, simple lines, faded colors, 2D drawing, My Friend Robot nevertheless immediately appears as the wisest, least iconoclastic film that Pablo Berger has given us to date, faithful on this point to the spirit and the Sara Varon graphic novel style. It is in this context, without arrogance, without words but with quite a bit of mischief, that the story will be told to us. That of Dog, a small anthropomorphic dog bored between the four walls of his very clean New York studio who, one day, decides to build himself a robot in order to overcome his loneliness.

Now inseparable, the furry beast and the scrap metal creature indulge in all the madness. Starting, come summer, with a trip to the beach, where salt water is far from recommended for the Robot friend. Who, after an enthusiastic bath, finds himself paralyzed on the sand, rusty down to the last bolt. Unable to carry him without help, Dog promises to return the next day. Alas, a number of events will contribute to separating the two companions for a long time, who will each follow their own path. Made of dreams and nightmares for one, more or less happy episodes for the other.

Carried out in parallel, sometimes intersecting, the two stories unfold with tranquility, sometimes giving the feeling that a certain routine is establishing itself. In reality, My Friend Robot follows a road strewn with pitfalls, missed appointments, tender twists and disappointments on which Pablo Berger has not failed to leave his mark through multiple references, literary, musical, cinematographic. My friend Robot thus drags in its wake Yoyo (1965), by Pierre Etaix, The Wizard of Oz (1939), by Victor Fleming and King Vidor, Shining (1980), by Stanley Kubrick. A parade which re-enchants the slightly outdated design of the film and, in the process, rekindles friendship.

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