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Jan 27, 2008

Fletch's Film Review: Cassandra's Dream

Woody Allen's latest London-based family drama (see Match Point) stars Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell as a pair of lower-middle class brothers (because they look so much alike) trying to make their mark on the world. As their mother says, Farrell's Terry is the athletic one and McGregror's Ian is the brains; Ian splits his time between managing his father's restaurant and borrowing Jags from the garage Terry works at to impress the ladies. Ian is constantly chasing pipe dreams, from romancing an actress to investing in California hotels. Terry, meanwhile, is content to be the mechanic he is, provided that he's able to support his gambling problem - he's partial to the dogs and the poker table, and he capable of some mighty streaks, both winning and losing.

We first meet up with the brothers just prior to one of Terry's winning streaks, as they prepare to negotiate the purchase of a small boat. After said streak (and a pocketful of pounds), the boat is theirs; it is fittingly named Cassandra's Dream, after the dog that Terry bet on to win.

Shortly thereafter, Ian meets Angela, an upcoming actress. He falls for her quickly, but feels the pressure of keeping up his GQ lifestlye on his limited wages. Meanwhile, Terry's winning streak comes to a blunt end, as he gets himself in debt to the tune of 90,000 pounds to the local bookie. Around this time, their rich uncle (Tom Wilkinson), an L.A. plastic surgeon, comes to town. And wouldn't you know it, they almost immediately solicit him for monetary help. As it turns out, though, Uncle Howard has some problems of his own - his practice is is in trouble, he's soon to be sued, and oh by the way, he'd like the boys to "get rid of" a colleague of his that's set to testify against him.

To share more might be spoiling it, but it also might be unnecessary. Allen's tale is beyond straightforward, travelling along a straight line that never wavers until the end, where it doesn't so much as end as it just plays itself out and stops. In between, McGregor and Wilkinson do their solid work, but Farrell steals the show, playing against type as a morally troubled soul who can't handle the request of him, much less the subsequent actions. Unfortunately, the women of the film are all but afterthoughts, with Hayley Atwell's actress Angela getting the Scarlett Johannson-in-Match Point treatment - she may have significant screen time, but her character is more or less an unlikable whore.

By the end, though, you won't really care about any of the characters - this is not a tale of ordinary people doing extraordinary things; instead, it's a tale of stupid people that compile mistake after mistake, compounding their stupidity with every available turn. You'll be more relieved than the characters by the time the credits roll.

Fletch's Film Rating:


7 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Cassandra's Dream"

Nick said...

I thought Match Point was one of the most boring movies I had ever seen. The only reason I watched it was because I love Scarlett Johansson. It just dragged on and on and on. The first hour felt like 3, and by the time it reached a more entertaining part with the murder stuff (which totally didn't fit in anyway), even THAT seemed like it would never finish. By the time it was over, I felt exhausted by doing nothing but laying in bed.

In other words, because this movie keeps being reviewed as even worse than Match Point, I think I'm gonna pass.

joen05 said...

I guess this one is off the queue.. lol

soundtrackgeek said...

Can't say that I am surprised, especially after I saw the trailer.

Funny you should review this movie now Fletch as I am reviewing the soundtrack by Philip Glass. It's a good score, but it does feel a bit "heavy" and a little bit boring. I'll put it up on Wednesday I think.

Fletch said...

It's weird...I think Phillip Glass scores are pretty great - they stand out from most, keep/push along your interest and all that, but I usually think they all sound exactly the same. Now, there's a movie going on, so I can't pick up on subtleties and such, but doesn't this come across to you as well, or does the experience of listening sans the film differentiate them enough?

Pat said...

Nick - I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only person who hated "Match Point."

Fletch - I think you got it just right when you said that you didn't care about any of the characters. I fault Allen's cliched dialogue for that. Only Farrell rose above that godawful script.

Daniel G. said...

This was certainly not great (except for Colin Farrell), but I've gotta stand up for Match Point here. I thought it was tense and entertaining, and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers was excellent. I only saw it in the theater so maybe it's not as good as I remember, but oh well.

soundtrackgeek said...

Oops, sorry for the veeeeeery late reply. After you suggested the subscribing to comment thing on my blog, I have no idea how to survive without it :P.

Yep, Philip Glass is an underrated composer in my opinion. He's just as good as Alexandre Desplat and Dario Marianelli if not better.

Yes, even for me, the first time I watch the movie, I very rarely notice the score, unless it stands out in some way. It is all to do with sound design, what they emphasize. For example in Stardust, the score was very present and clear to me and it was just great. In Transformers, I hardly noticed the score, even though it was one of the best scores of the year.

I'll check back here for replies, promise ;). But probably not until tomorrow morning. Have to get up in a few hours.