‘Ruben Brandt, Collector’, is a weird little animated gem of a film that will not appeal to those who are put off by abstract art and experimentation. No, seriously, this will fuck with their head and they will probably stop watching it after the first few minutes. If you fall in that category, you have been warned.
The plot is pretty intriguing, it’s about a psychiatrist (Ruben Brandt) who uses art therapy to help clients. But he is himself tortured by famous art pieces in his dreams. His clients, who are all criminals, decide to help him back – by stealing the masterpieces that haunt him. It’s the ‘face your fear’ technique. So you have a motley crew of four thieves, gallivanting around the world, robbing paintings by classical masters from art shows & museums. Even the iconic Louvre is not spared. Bonny and Clyde be damned.
There is also a parallel story of a private investigator, who is trying to unravel just who the fuck is behind the crazily impossible art heists. So you also have a classic cat and mouse chase going on.
Directed by Milorad Krstić, this Hungarian thriller is intelligent, poignant and darkly humorous. It’s a cool blend of art house meets film noir, kind of like Andy Warhol blending in with Renoir and having a baby with Alfred Hitchcock. Yeah, maybe that’s not possible. But just saying.
What I love about this psychological thriller is that it has a dash of a lot of themes that wouldn’t ideally be thrown together. It’s realistically absurd in parts. But also unreal and fantastical in other bits. And each character is not just unique, but also drawn differently. The animation is just something else.
The writers spring up a neat little twist towards the climax, that explains pretty much everything, including why art-pieces haunt the psychiatrist Ruben Brandt.
The pace of this film however is on the slower side and can really test the patience of those who seek immediate gratification from crime films. A little bit of chopping would have done this one great good. But I really enjoyed it.
The film is available on Netflix.
P.S – On an unrelated note – I published my second book ‘Love, Loss, Lockdown’. It’s a collection of short stories, check it out.