Cassandra’s Dream – A 4 out of 10 Movie Review
Cassandra’s Dream is the latest film to hit British shores from the very different Woody Allen. It is important to note that this review was mostly complete before I was aware that Allen had written and directed it. I thought I’d post the review unedited and add an additional comment to it at the end.
Cassandra’s Dream is named after a boat that two brothers purchase at the beginning of this London tale. I have been told that this film is a ‘comedy’ from a ‘comedy writer’. Perhaps this is why I have thought so little of the film then, as (call me old-fashioned) I expected to laugh! I didn’t ever! First thing you notice is the accents of the stars Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell. Now let’s consider this: McGregor is Scottish and Farrell is Irish and yet some idiot of a director thought it plausible to give them both South London accents. Who on earth thought this was a good idea? Neither actor is capable of convincingly producing an English accent and, to be frank they shouldn’t have to! Both actors could probably achieve each others' accent fairly convincingly and yet the Director decided “No: We’re going to do a English one”. Not good at all.
Imagine for a second that I was a fantastic actor (I know it’s a stretch). Now imagine that someone gives me a German screenplay and tells me to speak German and in a convincing German accent whilst acting. Firstly, even if I did speak German, the accent is something that takes a lot of work to get just right (many years in fact). Even if your German is perfect, it is still very difficult to convince a native of your (false) German heritage. Secondly, I would have to act with this convincing accent. This is a problem. Acting in one’s own language is tough enough, and yet it seems that the director (or whoever responsible) thought they know best. I have to assume that this director is so full of himself; he ignores any sensible advice given to him.
The accents spoil both performances of the lead actors. They both try hard and yet have trouble sounding like anything other than naive ten year olds. Maybe that was the point and it flew over my head (like most things) but that fact is, if a film stars two 30 something actors you’d expect them to talk like men (unless they have mental deficits).
The story is elongated and can be told in a 30 minute shortened piece (and would be better for it). There are some excellent themes regarding what is taken from the killer when you take a life, but to be honest we’ve read and seen this before in many different films and books. However, I did enjoy the “no-one is as ever financially sorted despite appearances” (basically, everyone is screwed up / got a monster in the attic) theme. In fact, McGregor says it best when he states: “the first time you look at something too closely you see all the imperfections”. This is a fairly ironic statement considering that is what I did. I looked too closely. However, given the London-town feel to this piece it feels like a dig at Hollywood. Wow, I’m getting far too literal. After all, I have promised before to prove that movies in general (no matter how good) are ultimately mediocre and nothing else. With that said:
Whoever green lit this film needs to be shot. The studio gave it to a person who clearly knows nothing of London city life or seemed to have a direction in the process. Like the character’s opinions, it is a naive perspective on how life is in England. You’d think with several million dollar budgets they could assign a couple of thousand for research into the area that their story is based. The fact is, this film was rushed, badly thought out and executed. It is a great shame really as I thought this movie would be the underdog; picking up the box-office pieces after Indiana Jones upset everyone.
Following on from the “I don’t know what direction I’m going in” theme, the director seemed to edit this movie agelessly, using cars and locations that would have fit in the 50’s or 60’s. It is because of this, that you give the film some leniency (maybe McGregor and Farrell are supposed to act like naive kids). It is only when you spot a 2006 ford that you realise that this is close to present day and the leniency stops abruptly. I am shocked that both McGregor and Farrell agreed to participate in this film. It is an insult to both of them. I assume that the director offered them free face licking for life or something, for they clearly could not have read the script beforehand or talked to the director about how bad their accents would be.
The whole piece feels unnatural to watch and sadly is an ultimate waste. This certainly would be a good DVD movie (a more thematic film) for you and the girlfriend / boyfriend, whom you’re trying to impress and get busy before the second act begins. Unfortunately, it is overly pretentious tat that wants to be a genuine recount of poor London lives and fails completely. This is probably because the crew have they heads stuck so far up the Hollywood myth, they’re thinking of building a property directly under the ‘H’ of the infamous sign. 3.1 out of 10 (good effort, but ultimately flawed).
After a quick look up of IMDB, I have noticed that this film was written and directed by Woody Allen. In truth, if I had known about his influence on the film, I would have been a great deal more biased. The only film, I have honestly liked from this man is What’s New Pussycat (and I was ten). Either way, I am shocked that a man who has been in the business for so long, is incapable of creating a genuine vision of London. The story had so many improvements that could have been made. You thought the story was going to twist, when it stayed dead straight. For the fact that Mr Allen should know better, the score has now been reduced: 2.8 out of 10. Still a respectable score, but it is time to actually RESEARCH your work Mr Allen. Don’t just think of a place from your study in Los Angeles and start to write about it, without experiencing the location for a while. The best scripts come from the heart; not just the imagination.