Ruben Brandt, Collector
by George Wolf
When is a collector not just a collector?
When he, or she, is a thief.
Not just a smash-and-grab hack, either, but the leader of four notoriously slippery bandits specializing in priceless works of art. All are patients of psychotherapist Ruben Brandt (voiced by Ivan Kamaris), and each offers their talents in his time of need.
Ruben is suffering from violent nightmares inspired by legendary works of art from masters such as Manet and Hopper. Ruben comes to believe possessing these works is his only hope for relief, and his thieving patients believe they can help with that.
As the art world is shaken by the brazen thefts, the identity of the ringleader dubbed “The Collector” remains a mystery.
In his feature debut, writer/director Milorad Krstic displays a wonderful eye and a frisky wit, filling his film with the familiar fun of a big screen heist, unexpectedly winning soundtrack choices and a rich, textured animation style worthy of the high art setting.
The caper itself is a wry, understated hoot, with intellectual asides to subliminal psychology and plenty of homages to iconic artworks. But, as only seems fitting, the constantly engaging animation is the true centerpiece here.
From the shadows that follow a thief along his clandestine wall climb, to the uneasy confines of a van struggling to navigate some dangerous curves, Krstic’s animation fills nearly every scene with rewards for close inspection, and a promise of more frivolity to any willing accomplices.
Like a pop-up book full of highbrow surprises, Ruben Brandt, Collector is never less than delightful.