Movie Review: 'Cassandra's Dream'
Allen's third consecutive film shot and set in the U.K., "Cassandra's Dream" bears so many similarities to "Match Point" (which, in turn, revisited the themes of his earlier "Crimes and Misdemeanors") that the movie has the whiff of a contractual obligation, right down to its slapdash, anticlimactic ending. Allen's ability to crank out a movie every year is admirable, but there is something to be said for taking a vacation and waiting for genuine inspiration to strike.
The story centers on two cockney brothers aspiring to something greater than the rut they've created for themselves. The smarter, more resourceful one (Ewan McGregor) works at their father's restaurant but longs to raise enough investment funds to move to California and enter the hotel business.
The denser, more destructive brother (Colin Farrell) works at an auto repair shop and struggles with a gambling problem that one day spirals out of control, leaving him $90,000 in debt. Then their wealthy uncle (Tom Wilkinson) offers to give both men the money they need — provided they do a VERY big favor for him first.
McGregor and Farrell may look nothing alike, but they display a convincing rapport that goes a long way toward selling the illusion of a fraternal bond. As their respective girlfriends, newcomer Hayley Atwell and Sally Hawkins ("The Painted Veil") manage to do a lot more with their characters than the script offers them: Atwell in particular takes the cliche of the beautiful aspiring actress and gives it a welcome depth and sophistication.
It's the movie itself that ultimately lets them all down. "Cassandra's Dream" forces its characters to ask themselves what they are able to live with and how far they are willing to go to attain personal happiness. It's a worthwhile theme, except Allen has explored it before, in an infinitely more engrossing and resonant manner.
Even the cinematography, by the great Vilmos Zsigmond, looks drab and uninspired, as if he had felt a little bored on the set. It's no different inside the theater.
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