What Dreams May Come
directed by Vincent Ward
(PolyGram, 1998)

A man may create his own heaven. But what if the person you most want to share your afterlife with isn't there?

Robin Williams does an inspiring job as Chris Nielsen, a man lucky enough to find a soulmate to share his life and love in What Dreams May Come. He and Annie (Annabella Sciorra) make a delightful, yet believeable couple, whose romance is marked with great happiness and great tragedy. Then Chris is killed in a car wreck and he finds himself in a heaven created through his wife's art -- leading to scenes so graphically stunning it's hard to describe with mere text.

Chris lives inside the art, so much so that paint smears beneath his feet and squelches between his fingers. With the guidance of Albert (Cuba Gooding Jr.), a companion from life who is not who he seems, Chris learns to appreciate and love his new existence.

But then the unthinkable happens. Annie, inconsolable after so much loss, commits suicide and finds herself in a hell of her own making. It's not a punishment, Albert tells Chris; it's her own unwillingness, through guilt and remorse, to let herself find heaven. And Chris does what we know he must -- he leaves heaven to find her and bring her out of despair.

The story is good, inspirational not so much through religion as it is through love. Williams again demonstrates how versatile he is at the full range of human emotions. Sciorra is a perfect partner, showing joy and devastation with startling realism. And Gooding is awesome as the mysterious heavenly mentor.

Story aside, What Dreams May Come is a feast for the eyes, a visual benchmark in filmmaking. This movie presents heaven and hell in awesome clarity, mixing the visual acuity of Hieronymous Bosch, Vincent Van Gogh, Michael Parkes and Salvador Dali, among others.

See What Dreams May Come and be awed. You'll never look at colors the same way again.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 4 May 2002

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