Ruben Brandt Collector
Directed by Milorad Krstic
Story by Milorad Krstic, Screenplay by Milorad Krstic and Radmila Roczkov
Starring Ivan Kamaras, Gabriella Hamori, Zalan Makranczi, Csaba Marton
I went into Milorad Krstic’s “Ruben Brandt, Collector” knowing nothing, other than the title was captivating. To my surprise, as the film started I realized that it was an animated film. But, that shouldn’t stop you from appreciating the piece of art that it is.
The art isn’t within the animation, and as a matter of fact, the animation is the perfect vessel for a story such as this. You might be inclined to think of the title as something that might fit an espionage story.
That’s partially true, but it isn’t the entire story.
Ruben Brandt (voiced by Ivan Kamaras) is a psychoanalyst treating patients at his isolated clinic, itself a work of art. The calm and serene environment would be just the perfect place for a talented individual like Ruben Brandt to help get other people’s souls pieced back together.
But, Ruben Brandt is a troubled, and perhaps more aptly, a tormented soul himself as he experiences nightmare after nightmare involving priceless works of art.
Krstic breaks each of Ruben’s nightmares into vignettes, increasing their impact on us. As these vignettes progress, each gets more and more thrilling and daring. But it also does an exceptional job of hiding the parallel story, that of the voluptuous Mimi (voiced by Gabriella Hamori) and an ongoing investigation by P.I. Mike Kowalski (voiced by Makranczi Zalan).
Every movement, every character, every piece of art has a function within the screenplay by director Krstic and Ramila Roczkov. And that is part of this film’s challenge as well. While it is beautiful to look at, once the reveal is made, the story becomes something we’ve seen many times over.
What saves the film from being overly generic are the characters and especially the animation. Each character, from Mimi to Mike Kowalski to Ruben’s patients, Bye-Bye Joe, Membrano Bruno and Fernando, the characters lend an authenticity to the heist themes as well as the noirish look and feel.
Then there’s the art, too. Renoir, Gauguin, Van Gough, Picasso, Manet and even, yes, Warhol are featured in the film. Subliminally, the inclusion of these pieces and their manipulation remind us that the beauty, or the danger, in art are in the eyes of the beholder.
Though there are homages to “Rififi,” my bar is John McTiernan’s 1999 remake of “The Thomas Crown Affair”. These two references should give you a general idea of Ruben’s state of mind and the type of story that Krstic and Roczkov were trying to tell.
Mike Kowalski and his assistant, Marina lend a “Maltese Falcon” type noir element to the story. Mike’s investigation puts a human spotlight on the situations that plague Brandt, and to an extent all of us.
Now in theaters, the innovating strokes of “Ruben Brandt, Collector’s” brush will shock you and make you laugh. But it should also make you see the inner beauty of everyone on this planet.
3.5 out 4