The Invisible Collection (2012)

[original title: A Coleção Invisível]

The protagonist of the Brazilian film The Invisible Collection is Beto (played by Vladimir Brichta), a young man who is dealing with a personal tragedy but is also worried about the future of his family’s business. He goes on a journey deep into rural Brazil in search of a deal that might turn the business’s fortunes around. But in the countryside, life is a bit different, and not as fast-paced as in the city. Beto has to learn to adapt to this world, and in the end he has to re-evaluate his life and his priorities.

Beto’s journey can be interpreted as an accidental spiritual journey, a pilgrimage of sorts, if you will; or as a process of coming to terms with loss, of learning to let go. In a way it is also a belated coming-of-age story. Along the way, The Invisible Collection deals with a number of subject matters, including change, loss, and decay, as well as the obsessive personality of collectors, but at the centre is the stark difference between Brazil’s modern urban centres and the rural areas that have been left behind by progress. That makes this film relatable for many viewers, as this difference can be found almost anywhere, but especially in the young economies like India, China, etc.

The cast is outstanding, and the whole film is an unbelievably strong work for what is director Bernard Attal’s first feature film. It is just one of those films where you feel that almost everything has been done right. The writing, the directing, the acting, the tone and the pace, etc.

There are some minor things that could have been done better in the writing/editing – I feel that in some scenes, a minute or two more could have been used to illustrate a characters’ development better, etc. And some minor characters are completely neglected.

What feels most unsatisfying to me is that a number of things (problems, plot lines, etc.) remain unresolved. But on the other hand this is sort of the point of the film; and it gives the film a short story feel which is sort of fitting, seeing as it has been inspired by a short story of the same name by Stefan Zweig (“Die Unsichtbare Sammlung”). So this is more a personal problem for me, a question of taste, rather than a general problem of the film.

So I would definitely recommend seeing this film if you ever have the opportunity. I would probably give this film 7 out of 10, which is also roughly in line with imdb’s current rating average.


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