2007 - United States / United Kingdom - 108 minutes
Director and Writer - Woody Allen
My Rating - 3 of 5 Stars
I am not a fan of Woody Allen's comedies having only enjoyed a handful, but was won over by his writing and direction of Match Point (Link to Review). I looked forward to watching Cassandra's Dream, but by the end of the film, I was disappointed as it certainly doesn't rise to the quality of the earlier film - mainly because of the ending.
In the beginning of the film, we see brothers Ian and Terry - products of a working class couple in England - scraping funds together to buy a sailboat. It is clear that these two are close and love each other as they happily set out for their first sail on their boat that they have named Cassandra's Dream.
In myth, Cassandra was able to predict dire futures, and she surely could have done so for Ian and Terry.
Ian helps his father run the family restaurant while all the time nurturing his big dreams of being a rich, successful businessman. He enters into one scheme after the other - none of which have been successful. He is obsessed by success - big success - and sees his father as unsuccessful. His ideal is his Uncle Howard who is a businessman of note.
Terry is a hard-working mechanic who has a loving girlfriend but also has a major gambling problem. As with most addicted to gambling, one minute he's on top of the world and the next minute he is in the pits. During one of those top of the world moments - after a big win - he buys a house, and he and his girlfriend settle into domestic bliss. Next comes a losing streak that puts him in considerable debt.
While on a drive in the country in a classic Jag that Terry has loaned to him on the sly, Ian stops to help a woman whose car has broken down. She is a beautiful, young actress, and Ian is immediately enthralled. He injects himself into her world presenting himself to be a businessman on the move, and the two are soon in love.
At the celebration of their mother's birthday, Uncle Howard appears out of the blue. This couldn't be better timing for the brothers as they see their uncle as the solution to their money problems. Ian needs funds to invest in a California hotel project, and Terry, of course, must pay his huge gambling debt. They approach Howard with their needs, and he is willing to help for a favor in return. It is quite a favor. He asks the brothers to murder one of his business associates who is about to disclose illegal practices that will send Howard to jail for, basically, the rest of his life.
Terry is finally convinced by Ian that the two should commit the murder. Afterwards, Ian forges ahead with his grand plans of moving to California with his lover and becoming a hotel mogul. Terry is racked with guilt.
Ian and Terry are portrayed by Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell. It is their acting that makes this film entertaining - especially that of Farrell. McGregor plays a shallow man very well, but his performance doesn't really project far below the surface of Ian. Farrell is excellent at giving the audience a brute of a man who has an enormous amount of love and compassion inside. He offers the viewer a well developed picture of an everyday guy caught up in circumstances of his own making who makes a terrible and tragic decision.
Tom Wilkinson is beautifully enigmatic as Uncle Howard. His performance is wonderfully understated yet convincing. He makes you believe that he could talk his nephews into committing homicide.
Woody Allen guides all of the actors in a well-produced film that is focused on character rather than the brutal act of murder. I really liked the fact that the viewer doesn't even witness the murder.
All of this drama is punctuated with a powerful score by Philip Glass. I must admit that I am a big fan of Glass and wallowed in his musical highlights.
As for the last part and ending of Cassandra's Dream, both are very weak. Do not view this film for the plot. View it for the fine acting and character development.
June 9, 2008