Film Review: RUBEN BRANDT, Collector (Hungary 2018) ***1/2

Ruben Brandt, Collector Poster

A psychotherapist suffers violent nightmares inspired by legendary works of art. Four of his patients, expert thieves, offer to steal the works, since he believes that once he owns them, …See full summary »


Milorad Krstic


Milorad Krstic (screenplay), Milorad Krstic | 1 more credit »

RUBEN BRANDT, COLLECTOR the film is so called as it is named after the two famed painters.  RUBEN BRANDT is one of the recent sprout of films on artists.

The film begins with a priceless fan stolen from the Louvre in Paris.  The backward somersaulting Mimi is the thief and an elaborate car chase takes place along the streets of Paris with Inspector Kowalski in pursuit.  The story is eventually revealed that Mimi is one of the patients of a psychotherapist who suffers from nightmares where famous paintings come to life (Velázquez’s Infanta Margarita or Boticelli’s Venus) to kill him.  His therapy theory is to own the problem and thus cure it.  He recruits his patients to steal the rare paintings that haunt him taking the audience  around the animated worlds of the famous museums of the Guggenheim to the Louvre to the Tate Modern.

The film’s animation is no Pixar or Disney but is of a different style that celebrates painters, particularly Picasso.  Many characters in the film have cuboid faces, with many containing three eyes or two mouths.  Director also loves to play with swaying shadows, giving his film a distinct artistic look.  The film contains a few scenes of graphic violence, acceptable as the target audience for the animated feature is adults and not children.

The spectacular car chase at the start of the film demands mention.  The chase is animated as if the camera was placed on the dashboard of a real car during the chase giving the sequence a realistic while stylistic look.  The background of the chase encompasses shops and lots of steps looking very much like typical Paris in a painting,

As with the T-shirt worn by one inconsequential person proclaiming “I Love Nothing”, the film contains a lot of ‘nothing’ humour.  These include the numerous innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire of the car chase.  But the most notable of these nothings is a three-minute inconsequential sequence dedicated to a mosquito.  The camera shows the animated mosquito. looking very much like a real one,  drawing blood from the arm of Inspector Kowalski.  The mosquito is subsequently smashed and killed with his saying: “He was the first to draw blood.”  Not really a funny or meaningful segment by the director but by no means a less entertaining one.  Such are the film’s pleasures.

But the single and most hilarious scene is when the therapist conducts a session involving role playing around a fire.  Each patient is required to play the role with one complaining about having to play Little Red Riding Hood.  The therapist insists he plays her for his problem is being too timid and unable to relate in an office work situation.

The film has an amazing soundtrack that includes music and songs from American country and western to contemporary to classical.  There are lots of classic film references from Hitchcock to the director’s own short he directed.  Stay for the end credits as all the references are lists as well as all the paintings and painters where are the inspirations or lookalikes in the film are taken from.

For a 66-year old director whose first film is this stunning, one can only eagerly await for his next project.  This might surely be a Best Animated Best Feature Oscar nominee for next year.


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