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Review: What Dreams May Come (1998)

Director: | 113 minutes | drama, , fantasy | Actors: Robin Williams, , , Max von Sydow, Jessica Brooks Grant, Josh Paddock, , Lucinda Jenney, Maggie McCarthy, , Matt Salinger, , , , Werner Herzog

“What happens to you after your dies?” that is a question that has occupied mankind for centuries. What Dreams May Come, starring Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr, answers this question. Chris (Robin Williams) is the happiest man on the planet. He is married to his beautiful and artful soul mate Annie (Annabella Sciorra) and has two lovely children. However, the whole situation changes when his son and daughter die in a traffic accident. Chris and Annie are both having a hard time, but they support each other and seem to slowly but surely come to terms with the grief.

When Chris witnesses a chain collision that he manages to avoid himself, he sees someone injured on the highway. Helpful as he is, he runs over to help. Fate strikes again. Chris gets hit by a car. He does not survive the collision and wakes up not much later in a beautiful colorful environment. Chris is in heaven, which by chance looks exactly like one of his wife’s paintings. He meets an old colleague named Albert (Cuba Gooding Jr). He walks with Chris’ deceased dog through the beautiful nature from Annie’s brush. He candidly tells Albert about his wife, who is still on earth. The loss is so unbearable that Chris is willing to give up everything to be with her. Together with his friend, he tries to bridge the gap between heaven and earth. Chris is told by Albert that his wife committed suicide out of grief. For a moment he thinks he can finally see her again, but Albert helps him out of the dream. People who take their own life will have to suffer in hell forever. Chris can’t let this happen. He decides to make a perilous journey to hell, with the chance of getting stuck there himself, so that he can be with his great love again.

“What Dreams May Come” is directed by the unknown Vincent Ward and based on a book by Richard Matheson, who also wrote “Stir of Echoes”. Robin Williams, best known for his comedic roles, plays convincingly in this drama without too much humor. Cuba Gooding Jr. has the nice task of convincing Williams that he is actually in heaven and does this with gusto. The is truly a sight to behold. The great fantasy world that is being created is beautifully portrayed. There is no better representation of the sky. Hell, on the other hand, is gray and drab, everyone is suffering and everything is broken. Really a place where you would not like to go after your death. Very well done. However, there is a lot to be said about the content of the film. The life of main character Chris is very perfect in the beginning and suddenly a lot goes wrong. Everything is a bit too extreme. A typical case of a huge tearjerker. Williams’ acting in particular does not fit in such a serious film at first. Fortunately, he once again shows that he is a good actor by suppressing his eternal smile.

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