Review: Cassandra's Dream
PLOT: Two brothers desperate to improve their station in life, ask a well to do uncle for help. One is a gambler who can never hold on to the money he makes, even though he is trying to start a new life with his girlfriend. The other is stuck helping his father out at the family owned restaurant. Yet he has plans involving business ventures out side of his current situation. And when he happens upon a beautiful actress, he feels the need to move up quickly. When the two finally get a chance to talk to their uncle, he has a favor to ask of them involving killing a man. As the two talk over doing this deed, it begins to tear them apart. Did I happen to mention this is a Woody Allen film?
I really liked the opening moments in CASSANDRA’S DREAM. Two brothers, Ian and Terry (Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell) are looking at a boat that they’d like to buy. Each of them planning some way they could afford this luxury. With a little money saved up, the two are able to purchase it. Both Colin and Ewan are both strong actors. They seem to genuinely like each other in these early moments. And although in many ways it feels very much like a Woody Allen movie, it soon turns on you, it feels nothing typical Allen fare. Instead of women and men, girls and boys, and all the problematic things in between. This involves the serious subject of murder. And soon after the brothers name their boat Cassandra’s Dream, it turns to something fairly odd and repetitive.
You see, Terry is a gambler and he has lucky streaks where he is able to get a ton of cash. But like most gamblers, he soon throws it all away. Ian on the other had, is a smart young man with several plans to start a few hotels and make himself rich. But he is stuck running his fathers restaurant with dear old dad sick at home. And he is also in need of a large sum of cash to continue his venture. Both of the two are in need of money and the only person they know that has it is their rich uncle named Howard (Tom Wilkinson). This is the same uncle that their mother constantly talks about while further making dad feel even more worthless. When Howard arrives, Ian and Terry approach him about a loan. And with this, Howard obliges… if they do something for him. And that something is kill a man that is about to testify against him. By using guilt, he gets the brothers to agree to take a man’s life.
So we begin. Even though both brothers accept it, first, because of a strong need for money. And then second, is family loyalty. All this leads to one of my major issues with the film. I truly think that when someone decides to do something that might be dangerous, or hurtful or just hard on that person, there is probably a great deal of inner turmoil. How many times do we have questions about what we are doing and if it is right or wrong? Do we talk about it with our family or loved ones? Absolutely. But sometimes truth makes for a dull movie. In fact, every scene after the proposition plays like… ‘I don’t wanna do it.’ to ‘we gotta do it’, and then ‘no, I don’t wanna do it’ back to, ‘we have to do it.’. And the movie goes on and on in this fashion until something happens. Then it continues with this right or wrong dialogue which makes it sort of real, and sort of boring.
I really liked both Ewan and Colin almost always. They are strong actors, and create a very natural bond in this film. But for some reason I didn’t feel as if I was watching Ian and Terry, I felt as if I was watching Ewan and Colin. The dialogue just didn’t ring true enough to make me believe in the situation. Even when the amazing Tom Wilkinson shows up, it just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t bad dialogue necessarily and these are all good actors. But the repetitive nature, which as I said, feels somewhat like real life, just didn’t work for me. And even the storyline, which is basically a thriller with a ton of talk, never reached a thrilling level. Both men have girlfriends and such and they really added a touch of life, especially the self absorbed actress named Angela (Hayley Atwell). Hayley is lovely as the young woman who falls for what she thinks Ian is. He borrows cars from the car repair shop where Terry works and takes her around in this type of luxury. She steals many of the scenes she is in with her performance.
And if all this doesn’t sound melodramatic enough, wait until you hear the score by Philip Glass. It is layered on very strong and powerful. Yet it seems to kind of negate the way the film is shot. In a scene with the two brothers speaking, even though it is a serious moment, it feels like it would be more powerful with a softer sound. But no, in these simply shot moments, the score feels like the music from Martin Scorsese’s CAPE FEAR. Mr. Glass is one of the best in the business, and I think the music might have been fine… in another movie. It seemed like there were too many ideas within the film, and maybe simpler would have been better. Too many emotional highs and lows, whether it be in the script or in the music surrounding it. Until the final moments, when the DREAM seems to really come alive. I loved the ending, but the journey to get there was a tedious one. My rating 4/10 -- JimmyO