Ruben Brandt, Collector is stylistically unsettling and one of the most unique animated films in years. Writer-director Milorad Krstic has made something indescribable. The story follows the titular psychiatrist as he uses a number of his patients to steal famous works of art from museums around the globe. He’s spurred on in his mission by dreams of artwork consuming him. Move over, Velvet Buzzsaw.
The animation style makes it into something new, continually introducing newer, more bizarre sights with each and every character and sequence. People with a half-dozen eyes; two faces; a man who is completely flat. It is a vision strained through an art school textbook. I know only the basics learned in an Art History 101 class in college; I can’t speak to the styles invoked, the artists referenced. But I imagine those who are more immersed in that world will get a kick out of this.
Not much else about Brandt feels quite up to par to its surreal style. Like Loving Vincent a few years ago, the fascinating invocation of classic art as an animation style is saddled with a run-of-the-mill story. While never boring, the film feels emotionally inert, a dramatic foregone conclusion at every twist and turn.
In the least dismissive way possible, Brandt is a curiosity, a fitting piece of a double- or triple-feature festival day paired with more emotionally engaging stories.