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The animation in "Ruben Brandt, Collector" is other worldly. // Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Review: Milorad Krstic’s Ruben Brandt, Collector

Ruben Brandt, Collector
Directed by Milorad Krstic; Metro Cinema; Fri., Mar. 22 (7 p.m.), Sat., Mar. 23 (9:30 p.m.), Mon., Mar. 25 (9:30 p.m.), Wed., Mar. 27 (9:30 p.m.)
Our Score
Ruben Brandt, Collector

Imagine if Dali and Picasso’s art had a baby, and that baby was an animated film about stealing art—it would be called Ruben Brandt, Collector. The eponymous character (voiced by Iván Kamarás) is a psychotherapist who treats people with art therapy, but has terrible nightmares where figures from 13 famous paintings attack him. His patients, who are all criminals, decide to help him out by stealing those paintings, on the grounds that possessing them will allow Ruben to conquer his nightmares.

Leading the strange band of art thieves is Mimi (voiced by Gabriella Hámori), who starts seeing Ruben because her cleptomania is getting in the way of her professional thieving. As a result of an incident—where she compulsively stole a painted fan from a museum instead of the diamond she was sent after—detective Mike Kowalsky (Csaba Márton) is hot on her heels.

This film has received a lot of negative criticism in regards to its plot—which I’ll grant you is pretty thin. There’s a twist thrown in towards the end, but ultimately it doesn’t really come to much. Mike is the only character to actually experience the reveal and his part in the drama comes to an abrupt halt shortly thereafter, so the film never addresses how his newfound knowledge affects his feelings or decisions.

But the plot is not really the point here. It almost feels like director and screenwriter Milorad Krstic intentionally served up a fairly standard plot so his audience wouldn’t miss anything when its attention was stolen away by the details of the animation. The characters in the world of Ruben Brandt, Collector are often Picassoesque, with more than two eyes, or only one, or with two on one side of their face. They may be three dimensional, two dimensional, or, as we learn through one conversation, even one dimensional.

But the bizarre appearances of the people populating this world are matched by the surrealness that permeates everything. The things the characters take for granted—like a lounge singer shedding tears that fall from one set of eyes to the next to the next before finally landing on her cheek—are so strange that it can sometimes be hard to tell whether Ruben is dreaming or not.

Perhaps this bizarre visual trip is not for you—in which case the thin plot will be too little for you to fall back on—but if you can enjoy the many chase sequences for what they are, and savour all the bizarre, beautiful details, then this film is definitely worth your time.

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