Robin Robin (2021)

One of the most exciting additions to Netflix this year is Aardman’s latest short, Robin Robin. Following Robin (Bronte Carmichael), a robin who is raised by mice and longs to be a mouse who struggles to fit in with her family and is unable to gather food and complete tasks in the same way that they do. What follows is Robin venturing on a quest to forge her own identity and accept herself as a robin thanks to the friendship she forms with the Magpie (Richard E. Grant) and her terrifying encounter with the Cat (Gillian Anderson). A beautiful little adventure to be enjoyed by all ages, Robin Robin sees Aardman returning with something new and unique in terms of style and story to create a short film that feels timeless and relevant at the same time.

This is the first new Aardman project we have seen in a while and it has been directed and written by some new faces that promise to propel Aardman into a new phase. Robin Robin is directed by Daniel Ojari and Michael Please and co-written by Ojari, Please, and Sam Morrison and the result is a short film that has a completely different aesthetic thanks to its use of felt over clay while still maintaining Aardman’s sense of whimsy and charm that makes it so popular with families across the globe. The character of Robin is that she longs to be a mouse but she soon learns of the positives that come with her differences and the writing lends itself to this message beautifully. We feel Robin’s anguish as she struggles to fit in but her journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance is one that is relatable for everyone, especially in modern times.

Playing Robin is newcomer Bronte Carmichael who is brilliant and charming as she brings the naivety to the role. Robin is an extremely likeable character thanks to her kind nature and we feel sorry for her as she struggles to act like the members of her mouse family. We feel Robin’s confidence grow throughout the film as she begins to accept herself and her differences and this is thanks to Carmichael’s flawless performance as she conveys Robin’s struggles across perfectly. Despite the film’s short running time, Carmichael manages to capture a depth of Robin so that she is a protagonist that we really get to understand and we want her to succeed.

As with most Aardman productions, Robin Robin has its fair share of stars and the first of these is the always brilliant Richard E. Grant as Magpie. When it was first announced that Grant would be part of the cast, it seemed to be the perfect match and this is definitely the case. Magpie loves to collect shiny objects and hide them in his home inside a tree but he isn’t truly happy as he lives his life in fear. Together, Magpie and Robin work together in order to live a life that both of them enjoy and this is achieved when thwarting the Cat’s plan to kill them. Grant really captures Magpie’s longing for something more than hiding inside a tree and although Magpie may seem unlikeable initially, Grant does well to convey that there is something lingering beneath his cold exterior so we know that there is more to his story.

The villain in Robin Robin comes in the form of Cat who is voiced by the impeccable Gillian Anderson. It is established from the beginning that cats are to be feared and when Cat comes into the mix in her first encounter with Robin, it is genuinely terrifying as Robin struggles to fly away and has to use her intuition to escape. Like Grant, Anderson is a perfect choice for the role because of her ability to truly dig deep into the character despite the short running time. Cat may not have the same level of characterisation as Robin or Magpie but Anderson’s performance ensures that Cat’s menacing presence is felt through the latter half of the film.

There are wonderful music numbers dotted throught Robin Robin and this allows us to hear the starry cast really bring their characters to life. The song that Cat sings as she chases after Robin is sinister and calculated which is miles away from Magpie’s song as he shows off his shiny collection of objects to Robin. The songs help to pace the film nicely while also giving us a glimpse into these characters without having to spend a lot of time doing so.

Robin Robin sees Aardman at their best by venturing into new stop motion territory by using felt models that look beautiful that fit perfectly into the Christmassy aesthetic. Combining different styles, Robin Robin is a heartwarming tale that weaves different plot points together perfectly in its climactic scene. Starring newcomers and familiar voices, these characters and the message it brings is a perfect story for those looking for a warm-hearted Christmas treat for all the family.

What did you think of Robin Robin? Let me know in the comments below!

Robin Robin is available to watch on Netflix now!

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