What Dreams May Come (1998)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Beautiful and imaginative.

After Robin Williams’ passing, there was one movie that I’ve more or less been avoiding because it brings it a little close to home…and it was just too soon. What Dreams May Come is a very well-known Williams film, and because it revolves around his character’s death…I thought it was a little chilling to the core to even consider watching – but now that I have…I’m really glad, because this is a truly beautiful film that took quite a bit of imagination to pull off.

It’s about a man named Chris Nielson who, a few years ago, lost both his kids to a grisly car accident. The loss caused so much grief to both himself and his wife, and it even brought them to the brink of divorce, but they pulled through. However, a freak accident claimed Chris’s life as well, leaving his wife to be a widow. In Heaven, Chris still felt his wife’s presence, as he lived in the magic of her paintings, which he always loved – but when she commits suicide, Chris must risk his safe and luxurious new home to find his wife in the impossible trap that is Hell.

Just the idea alone – that this is Robin Williams exploring the afterlife – chills me to the core. I know I shouldn’t really consider that for the review, but it really does now. It’s been a while since I actually watched this, so I couldn’t remember if it was a dark or light film – and I feared dark. It’s not though, it’s a mixture of both with a preference for light. In all honesty, it’s absolutely beautiful and imaginative. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I loved every second of it – in terms of visuals – and that’s a rarity for a 1998 film. The set designs sometimes were clearly just backdrops or green screened, but the cinematography was ingenious and captured what the film was ultimately going for.

However, I wasn’t the biggest fan on how the film defined suicide, that victims of suicide just go to Hell. Especially after the irony of Williams’ own passing – I don’t want to even think that Robin was immediately shot to Hell because he took his own life. I have my own beliefs on suicide, but I won’t get into it – just know that the description here kind of peeved me. Now, I understand why they did it that way – to progress the plot, I just wish it was a little different…like purgatory? I’m not sure. That being said, the way the film visually painted Heaven and Hell as two complete opposites was absolutely brilliant. Heaven is filled with smiles, and a world of visions that anyone can paint, while Hell is a desolate place where dreams are forgotten. It’s amazing actually, the thought process the visionary director must have went through to create this world.

In all actuality, this is a wonderful, beautiful film that does a really good job depicting love, loss, and even the subconscious. There have been films done like this in the past, but I’m not sure how many were so creative and honest with how everything was depicted. I was impressed. I just hope that somewhere out in the vast, mysterious unknown, Robin is painting his visions with a huge smile on his face.

The Good:

There’s no question about it. What Dreams May Come is beautiful in every aspect – from story, to acting, to writing, to visuals – this film has it all. It somehow captures both Heaven and Hell in the perfect light, without insulting anyone’s own vision.

The Bad:

I said it in my review – the depiction of suicide in this film, while it makes sense for the plot, really upsets me. They locked in the accuracy of feelings so well in this film, and how Heaven or Hell might actually feel – but the whole suicide thing really annoyed me.

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