“Ruben Brandt, Collector” is the closest thing to an animated “Mission: Impossible” movie we’ll ever get. It’s a global action/adventure heist mystery thriller that’s literally set inside the art world.
Like a picture, this film is worth a thousand words. However, like many paintings, it’s also very difficult to describe, interpret and understand. “Ruben Brandt, Collector” is the most outside-the-lines animated movie of 2018.
Ruben Brandt is a behavioral therapist, a rare occupation for the main character in an animated movie. But then again, this film is far from traditional. Brandt uses art to help treat his patients. But he’s also having problems of his own. Brandt is suffering from nightmares in which classic painting come to life and try to kill him. So he puts together a crew, led by motion picture stunt actress, Mimi, to steal those works from prestigious art galleries around the world. If he possesses them, he believes, they can’t hurt him.
It takes the first half of “Ruben Brandt, Collector” to get to this point and begin to make sense. Until then, it’s best to simply go along for the ride, which includes ultra-stylized EVERYTHING. Each character has a unique, boldly artistic look: two heads, three eyes and the oddest things coming in and out of body parts. There’s constant movement, including a couple of wildly-inventive, high-stakes chase sequences that rival those found in any live-action movie this year.
Things become clearer in the second half, as the narrative settles in. A private eye on the case of the stolen art is actually more of the focal point of the story than Brandt, which is a nice change of pace.
But ultimately, there’s a big question writer/director Milorad Krstic leaves you with: What is “Ruben Brandt, Collector” really trying to say… about art, artists, collectors, therapy?
Art is subjective. Film critics, like art critics, must reflect-on and critique based on their own interpretation of what’s they’re observing. From this critic’s point of view: “RBC” is a bizarre, unfiltered experience, but only a mildly successful piece of entertainment.