Director: Vincent Ward
Starring: Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr., Annabella Sciorra
Largely known for his comedic acting, Robin Williams took a turn for the dramatic in the late 90s. He took on three very complex and sensitive roles in three very heavy films: Good Will Hunting, Patch Adams, and What Dreams May Come. In the first two, he was able to infuse humor into the characters, making them believable and realistic. However, in a film about a dead man's journey to hell, there's not quite as much room for that.
Williams plays a devoted husband and father who's love for art is only surpassed by his love for his family. When he dies suddenly, Williams finds himself in his own version of heaven, surrounded by the beautiful paintings that were so important to him in life. Guided by kind soul Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire, As Good as It Gets), he soon learns that pain can still reach him, even in this perfect place. As the pair begin a perilous journey into the depths of hell itself, they will learn the truths that are hidden from them, both in life and in death.
'Beautiful' is as good a word as any to describe this film. It truly is a work of art, enchanting to both the eye and the mind. Imagine stepping inside a painting and manipulating the world around you, or closing your eyes and building your most pleasant dream; this film makes these fantasies a reality. The visual aspects of this film are extraordinary, but the rest could not quite keep pace. The dialogue was too obvious and the drama was overstated. The acting was just ok, as Sciorra was quite bad and Williams seemed always on the point of tears. I found myself wishing that the lines were as good as the scenery, or, at the very least, that there were less of them.
In such a serious film, a little break from the intensity would have been welcome, and an actor like Williams can give that. Instead, the sadness was near constant and any attempts at humor were through tears, making it feel even sadder. As beautiful as it was, the film as a whole was disappointing, made with a heavy hand where a light touch was needed. It just wasn't as wonderful as I wanted it to be, making What Dreams May Come a slightly depressing piece of art.
My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰
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