In a special screening also open to younger audiences, Spanish director Pablo Berger (Blancanieves) presented his animation debut at Cannes: an adaptation of the graphic novel, Robot Dreams, by Sara Varon. Bridging the gap between kids’ entertainment and more complex storytelling, the tale of an ill-fated friendship will warm hearts of adults and children alike.
In a New York City full of harmoniously cohabiting animals, a dog feels lonely all by himself. Inspired by an advertisement, Dog decides to purchase a robot and after bolting together the heavy metal parts, the two become fast friends. After a day at the beach, Robot unfortunately starts to malfunction and can’t be stirred from the spot. The two must part ways, but both continue to dream about their shared time, and hope to reconnect.
Completely free of dialogue, the story lives through its vibrant imagery, pleasantly familiar and resourceful at the same time. The non-realistic drawing style may potentially appear plain upon first sight but there is an abundance of meticulously crafted detail in each frame: the molten cheese of the TV dinner Dog prepares, recognisable real-life locations like the Strand bookstore, or even foreshadowing elements such as the goings-on outside the window, which will catch Dog’s eye at a later stage but strike the viewers as soon as they see movement.
The exceptional realm of this anthropomorphic world is completed by distinctive sound effects (Dog has a penchant for slurping soda) and poppy music (in particular September by Earth, Wind & Fire), which further stir audiences’ emotional engagement.
There is a beautiful melancholy that sets this piece apart from many other animated films – but fret not! While Robot Dreams acknowledges that companionship may be fleeting and its appreciation lies in the fact that it is better to have love and lost, it is everything you were looking for in a film – and more.
Robot Dreams does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2023 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Robot Dreams here: