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What Dreams May Come

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: What Dreams May Come

Starring: Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr.
Director: Vincent Ward
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 113 Minutes
Release Date: October 1998
Genres: Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

*Also starring: Annabella Sciorra, Max von Sydow

Review by MrBrown
3½ stars out of 4

_What_Dreams_May_Come_ is, in the most literal sense, a "dream movie," a visionary exercise in the use of dreamlike imagery, which, in turn, helps create a sublime romantic fantasy. The centerpiece of the film is a breathtaking tour of the afterlife, which is taken by one Chris Nielsen (Robin Williams) after he dies in a car accident. But while his spirit is in heaven, Chris's soul remains with that of his soulmate, his emotionally fragile wife Annie (Annabella Sciorra), who had never fully recovered from the years-ago deaths, also by car accident, of their two children.

_What_Dreams_May_Come_ is nothing short of a visual marvel. Eugenio Zanetti's production design, Eduardo Serra's cinematography, and the spectacular special effects supervised by Ellen M. Somers paint a wildly imaginative vision of the afterlife. This is quite literally the case in the scene where Chris first arrives in Heaven, which manifests itself in the form of one of Annie's paintings. It is perhaps the most visually ambitious scene in a film overflowing with visual invention, with Chris swimming in the still-wet paint and the backdrop remaining as two-dimensional as any canvas.

But the film is much more than a showcase for the latest in filmmaking technology. As with his last film, 1993's astonishing _Map_of_the_Human_Heart_, director Vincent Ward taps into the very core of romantic yearning, coming up with an admittedly sappy but no less poignant tale of true, pure love. There are some powerful moments, most notably a scene where Annie, in a fit of anger and grief, attempts to destroy a painting which, unknown to her, Chris and his spiritual guide Albert (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is inside. Of course, moments like those are carried over the top by the efforts of the actors. Williams, as always, is effortlessly likable, and he and Sciorra share a natural, magical chemistry. One has no trouble at all believing that these two are indeed soulmates, and, consequently, has no trouble falling under the film's entrancing spell.

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