Cassandra's Dream (2007)

Genre(s): Crime / Drama / Thriller
Weinstein Company || PG13 - 108 minutes - $24.95 || May 27, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-05-24


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Woody Allen
Writer(s): Woody Allen
Cast: Colin Farrell, Ewan McGregor, Tom Wilkinson, Hayley Atwell, Sally Hawkins


Theatrical Release Date: January 18, 2008


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
    None


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Woody Allen showcased a new side to him with Match Point in 2005, though I guess one could see it coming after the Will Ferrell dramedy Melinda and Melinda. Instead of some quirky romantic comedy a la Manhattan or Annie Hall (both fantastic films, BTW) and after a few – and I’m being kind here – average affairs (Hollywood Ending, Anything Else), he went in a new direction not only taking his subjects outside of New York City to London, but a new genre as well. Match Point was easily one of my favorite movies of 2005 and, in fact, of all-time. It’s filled with white-knuckle suspense (love the clichéd critic quotes) and just an all around interesting story about luck. So it was with great interest when Allen released another suspense-drama called Cassandra’s Dream. While the film on the whole was intriguing, it was also a big letdown.

Cassandra’s Dream stars Ewan McGregor (Black Hawk Down) and Colin Farrell (Miami Vice) as close brothers, Ian and Terry. The two brothers are going in directions in their lives they are not satisfied with. Ian works at the struggling restaurant his father owns while Terry, when not working as a mechanic, is either playing cards or at the race track. Ian wants out but needs more money to invest with others in a hotel deal, not to mention meeting and falling for a gorgeous woman who has somewhat expensive tastes, while Terry quickly gets into debt after losing £90,000 in a poker game.

Desperate, the brothers turn to rich Uncle Howard (Wilkinson; Michael Clayton) who has had success in his business practices (IIRC, plastic surgery). In the past, Howard has bailed out Ian and Terry’s family, including keeping the restaurant afloat, but when the two come to him for help, Howard needs a favor in return. Apparently Howard’s business practices haven’t been so clean and one of his own is about to testify to some shady things Howard has done which could land him in jail for life. In return for bailing the brothers out of their money woes, and helping them startup their own ventures, Howard asks them to kill the man set to testify against him.

Where Match Point was a dramatic theatrical opera, Cassandra’s Dream sets itself as a Greek tragedy. And indeed it is filled with plenty of tragic drama but at times the film itself just plods along with no real ambition or force. Unlike some viewers, I don’t mind slow moving films, films that take their time getting from point A to point D so long as it either has fascinating characters or a remarkable story, neither of which Dream really has. Certainly there are moments of brilliance like when Ian and Terry break into the target’s flat and await for his arrival. This scene is filled with suspense, the likes of which one cannot help but be reminded of Alfred Hitchcock, but after the scene and another subsequent one like it, the film, just as in the first act, trudges on.

As a director, it is of little fault to Woody Allen for the film’s shortfalls but Allen the writer deserves some blame. First, we have two characters that become increasingly annoying in their behavior. Ian (McGregor) turns into a self-centered and obnoxious while Terry becomes depressed and whines... a lot. A little goes a long way and I think shaving a few scenes off here and there would’ve made a difference.

The acting is OK and even though I have a hard time believing Farrell and McGregor are blood brothers, I thought they had some good scenes together. There are no real show-stopping performances here, but, as in many of Allen’s films, they excel in their roles well enough. My only complaint when it comes to the cast is that of Tom Wilkinson. After showing up about what seemed like an hour in, he disappears until towards the end (and even then it was only a minute or two). Wilkinson has demonstrated time and again what a fantastic actor he is and I would have liked to see more from him.

After watching Cassandra’s Dream, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Man on Fire and Domino. I loved nearly everything about Man on Fire from Tony Scott’s use of a crank camera to boost his visual style to an emotional story. Scott soon followed Fire with the Domino Harvey biopic which utilizes the same style but ultimately failed at the end. I consider it the same with Dream. After the success of Match Point, he steps back into the suspense-drama genres but the results were far different.

It’s not to say Cassandra’s Dream doesn’t have merit because it does. I personally enjoy tragedies and this film certainly has it. Combined with a solid cast and at least a half-interesting story, it makes for a movie worth a rental. If you too liked Match Point, you might find this one a tad disappointing, but still a decent flick.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

As per every Woody Allen movie, no features are included sans a few trailers for other Weinstein Company projects.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

The picture quality on Cassandra’s Dream isn’t impressive but the 1.85 OAR frame looks good and colors seem to be as intended. This is a fairly soft film in general so it’s tough to judge it overall.

Another staple on a Woody Allen DVD is the subpar audio. This time the movie gets a Dolby Stereo mix that does its job and nothing more.



.::OVERALL::.

Cassandra’s Dream isn’t one of Woody Allen’s best, not even close, but anyone fascinated by human psychology or tragedy in general might want to give this one a try. The DVD is featureless so you might want to wait for it to come down in price since you will only be buying the movie, not only no features but a substandard audio track as well.