MOVIE: RUBEN BRANDT, COLLECTOR
STARRING: IVAN KAMARAS; GABRIELLA HAMORI; MATT DEVERE; ZALAN MAKRANCZI
DIRECTED BY: MILORAD KRSTIC
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
Ruben Brandt, Collector is an animated noir film about art, digs into the psychology of the mind, and creates its own unique style in the process. As a whole, it is one of the most interesting animated films I have seen in the last five years. Every year, a new, unheard of animated feature comes out, post-Oscar season, and it's typically more original than the typical bubblegum animation that big studios push to get kids hopped up on colors and candy. That might be an unfair comment against big studios, especially because Ruben Brandt, Collector is a film for adults, but there is another side to animated cinema that is not celebrated enough. Director Milorad Krstic has a fascinating style, it looks and feels trippy, overflowing with detail, and plucked out of the halls of the Art Institute. Ruben Brandt, Collector is a statement piece.
The title character Ruben (Ivan Kamaras) is a psychoanalyst and he has been recently experiencing strange dreams. Some involving a woman, flashes of various forms of his own death, and some of his favorite works of art. He is currently treating four people, each one a criminal in their own unique style, lead by the long legged Mimi (Gabriella Hamori), and relishing in the opportunity to have the patients teach the doctor. The group views these dreams as a sign, a message that each work of art must be stolen, collected in order to get to the bottom of Ruben's troubles. Like plenty of other heist films, their schemes do not always go as planned, but with investigator George (Peter Linka) on their tail, the thrill of the steal becomes the groups cure, their own unique way of perfecting their criminal art.
What makes Ruben Brandt, Collector such a fascinating film is because there is art in every frame, every character, set piece, and design. Each person has a look like the works of Picasso, a nose by the chin, three sets of eyes, or a mouth elongated like a horse. On top of the eye-popping animation, there is an opening chase scene that is high paced, like an animated version of Mission: Impossible- Fallout. One of many sequences of thievery is as cool as Hitchcock or Soderbergh film, the tones equal to a noir such as Double Indemnity, and a climactic helicopter fight reminded me of From Russia With Love, where James Bond ducks for cover. Director Krstic not only wants to praise art, he wants to make this praise his own art form.
Although the ending felt a bit safe, maybe too predictable, it still does not take away from the unique style that Ruben Brandt, Collector is. Similar to what Loving Vincent did, telling Van Gogh's story in a world of his paintings, this is a universe of art. I want to revisit this setting again, where Monet or Cezanne's work comes to life in every person or building. The streets remind us of paintings, hair waves in the wind like Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus", people stare into a lakeside as if Seurat made them that way, and Ruben Brandt learns about what it all means to his past and present life.
As other animated films, such as Kubo and the Two Strings, The Red Turtle, or Song of the Sea have each made their mark in animated circles, so has Ruben Brandt, Collector. This is animation that is filling, like a big bowl of mashed potatoes. You can shape it into a work of art, you can savor the taste, and you feel comforted in the end. I think the message is that art is all around us and we have to cherish it. We don't ever want to lose our eye for the artistic, it's always beautiful, it's right there in front of us, we just have to be brave enough to collect it.
Written by: Leo Brady