Ruben Brandt, Collector (2018)
Starring Iván Kamarás, Gabriella Hámori
Written and directed by Milorad Krstić
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 80%
An independent Hungarian animated film with a style all of its own. Incredibly eye-catching in visuals and plot, can this artistic showpiece deliver over 90 minutes of film?
Ruben Brandt is a leading psychotherapist in the world of art therapy, living in the hills in Europe where he helps his criminal clientele cure their mental ailments by getting them to express themselves through art. However, Brandt himself is haunted by recurring nightmares in which famous pieces of art come to life and murder him. When an expert thief named Mimi comes to Brandt for help curing her kleptomania, she discovers his ailment and, with the other criminals under his care, devises a plan to steal all the paintings that run riot in the therapist’s mind.
RBC feels like a hugely ambitious film. As you can tell from our recent uploads, we at The Culture Cove are huge fans of animation in general, and Japanese animation in particular. However, RBC doesn’t really fall into any sort of bracket, even in European animation. Similar to the film Loving Vincent about the famous artist Van Gogh, the film’s style is inspired by the art that features heavily in the film. A Picasso-esque 2D style mixed with a host of other European flavours from the time, at its best this film is a stunning visual delight.
However, with something so striking, it’s perhaps unsurprising that it is not a comfortable watch for the length of a feature film. The setting is consistently beautiful, the majority of the film set across Europe, beautifully captured in what are literally postcard picture backgrounds. However, the characters are frequently left devoid of body language and aesthetic emotion due to the somewhat frozen nature of the images.
The characters as people are really interesting, their personalities mixed, sometimes literally, with fantastical traits which add to the wonder that often holds the film. Mimi, the pseudo-star of the film, is a fantastic character in every sense who you can’t help to want to learn more about, despite the reality that she is quite a simple character when you stop to think.
The only real negative I have concerning the characters was the voice acting, which almost appeared to lean into the artistic style a little too much. Too often the character’s lines felt drab, devoid of the emotional strength required when dealing with some of the slow frames that this film provides. Beyond that, the voices also felt strangely casted, all of them delivering posh, predominantly English accents which was off-tone for such a multicultural piece. The voices also felt badly produced and somewhat muddled quite often.
RBC’s story is quite well told, despite a slow start that holds onto the ‘art independent’ film vibe for a little too long. Once the film begins to increase its speed the story comes into its own, with slick animations and a simple story blending fantasy and humanity together with some great results. On that note, it’s worth mentioning that the story itself, while an excellent idea, is quite simple in its execution.
The direction in this film by Milorad Krstić is, like the film itself, excellent for the majority of the film. the odd moment in this film feels drawn out, but the director’s impact can be felt in every scene. Beyond being visually ambitious, there are many shots in this film that are extremely creative, capturing the motion of an entire city or group in a still frame.
Overall, Ruben Brandt, Collector is a hugely ambitious film that in the most part achieves its aims, delivering a slightly fantastical story with a subtle but effective human element. However, it’s not the perfect film in its production, while the story itself is quite simple. Combined with its unique animation style, it’s a film that may have been better served as a one-hour short, but for the pure joy of discovering a different animation style, RBC is definitely worth a viewing!