This dark and depressing film takes place with Annie (Annabella Sciorra) and Chris (Robin Williams) falling in love. They start a family and are the happy couple with their two children, until tragedy strikes and both children and killed in a horrific car accident. Four years later Chris dies in his own accident leaving a despairing Annie, while Chris attempts to move on to his own afterlife, led by a character named “Al”. (Cuba Gooding Jr.) When Chris realizes he is in Heaven and all the delights that come along with it, he still longs for his wife. He is reunited with his daughter and son, when suddenly tragedy strikes again. Annie commits suicide, but suicide victims don’t go to Heaven, they go to Hell.
The connection established between Chris and Annie is without a doubt the greatest, most amazing kind of love that exists in the world. It is no surprise that even though Chris is in Heaven his longing for his wife to join him puts an enormous cloud over all the beauty and peace that comes with his new enlightened existence. So it’s no shock when he takes on the mission of going to Hell to rescue her.
There are some things that work with this scenario and some that fail miserably. Starting with the positive, the score (Micheal Kamen) was enrapturing coupled by an amazing dose of cinematography (Eduardo Serra) that set a most palpable back round for Heaven and Hell. The imagery at times was almost a distraction from the story it was so intoxicating.
The casting was perfect. Annabella Sciorra and Robin Williams had perfect chemistry and it was more than believable that the two loved each other deeply enough to go to any extreme for one another. Cuba was a relief in each scene he was in. He was bright, full of energy, and absolutely delightful. He was a light in a movie full of depression and darkness.
The negative had little to do with the script, but more or less the adaptation of it onscreen. While the cinematography was stunning, so much time was spent viewing the lovely Heavenly world, it seemed to lose track of the bigger picture, the pressing need to connect with Chris with his wife while she still existed. That, with the mix of flashbacks, threw the entire flow of the movie off, and at times was actually disorienting. It took away from the fantasy world of Heaven, losing it’s allure and pureness and pulled the viewer back into reality shoving the depression and darkness back in your face again, and then boom! Two minutes later, we’re back in Heaven and happy again. It was just too many mixed emotions that didn’t fly together. However, the flashbacks did work for the Hell scenes because they reflected the already dark nature of the scene.
In it’s entirety What Dreams May Come was a good movie, but the confusion of the fantasy/real world, and the constant distractions left it difficult to connect with the characters at key moments, and some of the sentiment and affection was lost because of that. At the end, you felt like you needed something more. It lacked the bittersweet emotion necessary to make this kind of story work. It gets a disappointed Two out of Four stars.