"The Invisible Collection" has a premise based on a short story, and that knowledge really helps expose the film's flaws. When the credits roll, the film will definitely be considered somewhat of a feel-good movie, and a certain sense of fun is there, but that fun is marred by pointless moments and some decent sized holes in the story.
First of all, the first ten minutes of the film could have been left on the cutting room floor. The viewer is introduced to Beto and a handful of his friends. These friends will play no role in advancing the story later on, so it's best to forget them nearly as fast as Beto does. During the Q&A session after the film's screening at the 49th Chicago International Film Festival, director Bernard Attal confirmed that none of the opening scenes are actually part of the short story. They are really just filler; the problem with that is they feel like filler.
Beto seems to have money issues as well. But his late father sold some rare pieces of art to a collector on a remote plantation several decades ago. The pieces would be worth a small fortune, so retrieving those works would be the answer to his fiscal prayers.
The problem with depicting Beto's money issues is the fact that they seem to be forgotten once he sets out to find the artwork. He's buying a local boy lunch. He pays off a local radio DJ for information. He uses a taxi for all of his transportation(which must be expensive, considering the taxi always seems to wait for him again at his destination).
Just as easily developed and forgotten is the chemistry between Beto and the plantation owner's daughter. Of course she's feisty and doesn't want Beto around her father, but it's quite obvious that the two will be making out at some point during the film. What isn't so obvious is how fast that dynamic is tossed to the wind. The woman goes from pointing a gun at Beto's face to kissing him to being virtually nonexistent all within about a half-hour of screen time.
The incomplete love interest setup is just one of the questions "The Invisible Collection" leaves behind at its conclusion. The story does take an interesting twist(and is obviously the meat of the short story that the film is adapted from), but without a little more context, it literally makes no sense. It's like the 800-pound elephant in the room is never addressed. Even worse? It's not even mentioned. And everyone goes their separate ways. This reviewer doesn't care if all the characters can ride off into the sunset with smiles on their faces. He still has to walk out of the theater into the cold night air, knowing that those unanswered questions will be itching for some time in the back of his mind.
"The Invisible Collection" screens again today at 6:15pm and one final time on Tuesday, October 22 at 3:30pm as part of the 49th Chicago International Film Festival.