Ruben Brandt, Collector – Review

Joining the ranks of films such as The Illusionist and Waltz with Bashir, Sony Pictures Classics, famed independent film distributor, returns after a long awaited animation drought with Ruben Brandt, Collector, their first animated release since The Red Turtle. Unfortunately to note, Ruben Brandt, Collector,  is an incoherent yet deeply passionate animated expose on noir tropes and cliches, that fails to live up to it’s high expectations. Thoroughly gripping with each action set piece, Ruben Brandt, Collector is a fun little indie that is sure to gather a cult following in the near future. For the time being however, this certainly won’t be a hit, nor as big as a critical smash compared to the previously listed films.

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Unlike what the film could have been with it’s wide branch of potential, based on the noir genre, Ruben Brandt, Collector unfortunately falls flat due to it’s execution. A film in which the value of kaleidoscope imagery, outweighs the film’s pre-requisite content, regardless of how visceral or visually dull the film can be. Inspired by the surrealist works of Picasso and Dali, Ruben Brandt, Collector is an homage to modern art and crime capers, which comes in the form of Milorad Krstic’s endlessly inventive designs.

Packed with layered backdrops, and arbitrary character modules, the film itself feels more like a show-reel of Krstic’s artistic talents and abilities, rather than his storytelling talents. As beautiful as the film may seem, the first half of this over 90-minute animated production is weightless. Carrying barely any thematic weight, nor care for the characters, Ruben Brandt, Collector ends up being a relatively dull, yet visually stunning product, similar to the likings of other not-so successful films, such as the very recent Netflix production, Velvet Buzzsaw.

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Albeit the film’s innovative visual material, at the end of the day, it all feels wildly uneven. The character movements ranges from smooth to crappy computer-generated key frame animation. The sound design ranges from atmospheric (i.e the campfire scene) to the bare essentials, such as iMovie sound effects. Even the nightmare sequences feel out of place, with some being genuinely terrifying and suspenseful (such as the opening train sequence, which involves a very sluggish snail and a despicably evil little child), with some other scenes feeling too cut shore for the segments to work and flow.

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Ruben Brandt, Collector narrowly misses the margin between detailed film-making, homage, and convoluted storytelling. It lacks cohesion in the most random of places, losing focus of the point and meaning behind every creative decision. If ever Krstic plans to direct an other animated feature, let’s all hope for the best that his future work, won’t be as lost in translation, as this film ended up being.

Ruben Brandt, Collector opens in select Canadian cinemas – March 1st

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