(US); 1998; Rated PG-13; 113 Minutes
Robin Williams: Chris Nielsen
Cuba Gooding Jr.: Albert
Annabella Sciorra: Annie Nielsen
Max Von Sydow: The Tracker
Jessica Brooks Grant: Marie Nielsen
Josh Paddock: Ian Nielsen
Rosalind Chao: Leona
Produced by Barnet
Bain, Ronald Bass, Alan C. Blomquist, Stephen Simon, Ted
Field, Erica Higgins and Scott Kroopf; Directed by
Vincent Ward; Screenwritten by Ronald Bass
by DAVID KEYES
on the afterlife are frequently imagined as attractive,
breathtaking places that go beyond what we dream and slip
into what most would consider impossible places to imagine.
They are viewed as worlds of passion and grace, beauty and
imagination, and nostalgia and wisdom.
may be a place where anything is possible, but people from
all different areas of vocation have often demonstrated
their beliefs of the afterlife through light, sound and
vision, as if they're souls who have seen it's existence.
Artists sketch phenomenal scenarios decorated with towering
mountains, breathtaking valleys and open fields of colorful
flowers. Painters transfer their imaginations and beliefs
of it onto a canvas which in itself is a limitless occupation,
just as long as the paint is there and ready to use. Heck,
even Philosophers have offered their notions on what exists
on the other side. Some describe it as a desolate, dry place
where there's no feeling, no color, no life, and no ambition.
Others describe it as a bold, marvelous place of awe and
perhaps there's no better way to picture these places than
through the movies. For directors, screenwriters, producers
and visual artists, it's an opportunity to test the limits
and possibilities of visual richness and imagination. For
us, it's an opportunity to view what other people think
exists beyond life. Sometimes, these visions are quite what
we anticipated. Sometimes, it's a visionary landscape beyond
what we expect to see.
minute "What Dreams May Come" arrives on screen, you know
that you're in for a real treat. Here is a movie of such
intense visual colors and design, it stirred nostalgia in
me that not even the dinosaurs of "Jurassic Park" or the
aliens of "Alien Resurrection" could. In simpler words,
this is the most visually stunning and appealing movie to
date. It offers us an absolute limitless view of the afterlife,
boldly mixing color and art in the landscape, just as it
mixes feeling and importance in the characters.
could have possibly been one of the greatest movies made.
It's already a masterpiece of art and imagination, but nothing
more. If it wasn't for the meaningless directions this plot
takes, "What Dreams May Come" could have been absolutely
flawless. Yet, the story manages to make numerous mistakes,
deadening the pulsating power of the visual worlds that
it's an impressive piece of work; a sight for sore eyes,
as most would say. It stars Robin Williams as an art-lover
named Chris Nielsen, who, one day, meets up with an attractive,
vibrant woman named Annie, played by Annabell Sciorra. Chris
is convinced that this is his soul-mate from the first time
he lays eyes on her, and Annie feels the same.
flash forward a few years. Both of them are married and
have two children, whom are adored by both of their parents.
One day, setting off for school, they are (supposedly) killed
in a car accident. We never actually see this happen, but
the narration of Williams' character tells us so at their
forward a few more years. Still suffering from the loss
of their children, Annie and Chris find themselves apart
on their anniversary. Annie has an important engagement
at the art museum, and Chris himself is tied up in work.
On his way home, he stops off at a sudden car accident within
a driving tunnel. He gets out of his car, goes to an overturned
vehicle with a victim barely hanging on for life. The next
moment, he's hit by an oncoming car flying through the air.
After floating in a subconscious state for another fifteen
minutes of the movie, he then realizes his death and leaves
behind the woman he loves, who is now depressed and torn
up on the inside.
now, free of all his meaning to stay on Earth, he wakes
up one morning around a landscape made of oil paint, resembling
a painting Annie had created for him. This is his afterlife,
a place for redemption and peace, and a place for beauty
and wonder. It is his world, free for him to do whatever
he wants to it.
movie then develops into several, complicated stages of
storytelling, all of which have their own special values
in relating with the scenarios. To put it bluntly, in dark,
tense moments, the landscape shrouds in darkness and mysteriousness;
at the bright, cheery moments, everything is colorful and
purely vibrant. The afterlife changes its moods just like
a person does.
course, it's no wonder, since most of the story afterwards
takes so many different and gloomy turns that it's kind
of weird. After Chris is informed that his wife has succeeded
in committing suicide, the movie develops into a quest,
where Chris bounds all other afterlives in hopes of finding
his beloved Annie before she's swallowed up for eternity
in her own, desolate hell.
nothing wrong with the landscapes, but there is something
wrong with some of the direction. The other important characters
who we meet in the afterlife are not who they seem to be.
Cuba Gooding Jr., for instance, is actually Chris' son in
disguise. He appears in this form because, due to past experience,
this is probably the only way his father will listen to
just as we learn these little tidbits of information (mainly
the relationships between characters), there are flashbacks
to moments that explain the situations a little better.
Ian, Chris' son, is revealed in one scene, and in the next,
the picture flashes back to a moment when Chris tells his
son that he has to leave his school and be educated somewhere
else. Ian tries to convince him to stay, but Chris only
hears what he wants to hear.
movie is filled with several different sorts of these quirks
(meaning characters are actually others in disguise), which
eventually culminate at an instance when Chris reaches his
destination and finds Annie. It won't be necessary to reveal
the ending (I know, I've revealed too much already), but
you probably won't like it anyway. I didn't.
repetitive story twists do not help my nostalgia for this
movie. It degrades it to a level of pity and sorrow; meaning,
it's not appreciated as much as it should be.
is, undoubtedly, a huge shame, especially taking into context
that it is, after all, the most visually stunning movie
I have ever laid eyes on.
the story had been less predictable and repetitive, this
could have been the greatest film of the year; perhaps even
the greatest of the decade. Instead, it settles down into
a nest of the other overrated 1998 movies, which include
"Saving Private Ryan" and "Armageddon."
emerging from a cloud of frustration, it's a treasure of
the imagination; a spectrum that reminds us that anything
is possible when you are making movies.
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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