Featuring the voice of Iván Kamarás. In English and Hungarian, with English subtitles. Rated PG
Collecting art can be as tempestuously driven as its creation.
Or so asserts this strangely dreamlike, altogether captivating debut feature from Slovenian-born, Budapest-based animator Milorad Krstic.
As one character puts it, “Art is the key to troubles of the mind.”
It definitely turns the brain lock of the titular Ruben Brandt, a sleek psychotherapist who confirms the cliché about shrinks being nuttier than their patients.
Voiced in English by Iván Kamarás, who played hunky villains in Hungary-shot items like Hellboy II and A Good Day to Die Hard, Brandt has assembled a rogues’ gallery of disturbed people at his Swiss-lake retreat.
Oddly, most of their issues have to do with stealing things—something that matters when they learn that Brandt (whose name carries the oil-based whiff of old masters like Rubens and Rembrandt) wants them to purloin 13 of the most famous paintings in the world.
This compulsive collector has decided that owning original icons from the likes of Diego Velázquez, Vincent van Gogh, and Sandro Botticelli will somehow end the violent nightmares and hallucinations that find these paintings’ subjects trying to kill him in novel ways.
In an oblique nod to Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom, and with surprising connections to Never Look Away (about German artist Gerhard Richter), it turns out that Brandt’s father was an intelligence agent who used his own son in psychological experiments involving film about art.
This wildly animated venture combines a multitude of drawing styles, although characters mostly reflect Picasso’s African-mask period.
Pixar it ain’t.
But Hollywood still looms large, with high-speed car chases, cat-burglar sequences, and myriad film-noir references dominating a story that isn’t always easy to follow.
One subplot involves a 1940s-style private eye (Csaba Márton) chasing slippery femme fatale Mimi (Gabriella Hámori) around the great museums of Europe and North America.
Given all the Hitchcockian goings-on here, it’s unfortunate that the mostly Hungarian voice cast, while adequate, fails to pull off the accentless genre-speak that would make this Collector one for the vaults.
Perhaps some fresh buzz will help raise money for a new pass at the soundtrack—even if it can never raise Robert Mitchum and Gloria Grahame from their everlasting graves.