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Cassandra's Dream (DVD Review)

18 May, 2008 By: Amanda McCorquodale

Cassandra's Dream

Street 5/27/08
Box Office $1 million
$24.95 DVD
Rated ‘PG-13' for thematic elements, some sexual material and brief violence.
Stars Colin Farrell, Ewan McGregor, Tom Wilkinson, Sally Hawkins, Hayley Atwell.

Cassandra's Dream is Woody Allen's 38th film and the third in a row based in London.

As in Match Point and Scoop, his other two Anglophile films, Cassandra's Dream is a murder mystery spiked with the politics of the British class system.

McGregor and Farrell play working-class brothers who struggle to rise above their roots by gambling and faking wealth with borrowed cars. Their pursuits soon find them in substantial financial trouble. Thankfully, they have a wealthy uncle (Wilkinson) who can save them from loan sharks and debt. However, their uncle's help comes with a price, and the brothers must decide if his monetary aid is worth committing an unspeakable deed.

We've seen this morality play before, long ago in Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors and more recently in the far superior Match Point. Despite a winning musical score by Philip Glass, Cassandra's Dream disappoints as it feels notably restrained and rushed.

The actors do their best with the flat dialogue they are given, and as it is straight drama, Allen is absent from the cast as are his signature witticisms, irony and humor.

Yet, there are traces of Allen's usual motifs in the directing and writing. There is the play within a play, the auteur fascination of a sensual female character as well as the heavy-handed references to Greek tragedies to underscore the film's tragic themes.

Match Point provides what this film lacks: the heavy psychological torment that accompanies immoral acts. Cassandra's Dream merely plunks the moral down on the table without the entertainment of characters who wrestle with their hearts and minds.

Audiences who are familiar with Allen's catalog will realize that he has done this “Tell-Tale Heart” thriller better before. For those unfamiliar with his previous work, Cassandra's Dream will amuse for its 109 minutes, but it will be forgotten soon thereafter.

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