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Cassandra's Dream More at IMDbPro »

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124 out of 152 people found the following review useful:

Woody Dostoyevsky

Author: M. J Arocena from New Zealand
2 February 2008

Crime and punishment in a modern, anonymous London. Two perfectly matched, mismatched brothers. Yachts that cannot afford, dreams of Hotels in California and an everyday of losing and losing. An opportunity with a huge catch attached to it and, of course, the inexorable is waiting. Crisp, fast dialogue. Excellent performances by Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrel as the brothers, an outstanding bit by Clare Higgins as the mother and the ubiquitous Tom Wilkinson as the rich uncle from America. There is something endearing about the dimness of the two brothers and we follow their predicament appalled and entertained. The ending feels a bit rushed. I longed to be part of those final instants just to catch a glimpse of that ultimate decision. A morality tale from Woody Allen, what next?

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102 out of 142 people found the following review useful:

A Tale of Two Brothers

Author: mjsinclair from Switzerland
19 November 2007

Woody Allen has a genius for creating fully fledged characters in minimum time. A few minutes into the opening scene which shows the two brothers buying a boat that they cannot afford, we already understand that theirs is a genuine, close and mutually supportive relationship – a relationship which will be severely tested later on.

Two brothers aspiring to improve their lives in very different ways: one hoping to win enough money through gambling on dogs and poker, the other through investing in restaurants and property in Los Angeles.

Two brothers who both need money for very different reasons: one to escape the clutches of loan sharks who would break his legs, the other to escape to LA with the beautiful, sophisticated woman of his dreams.

Two brothers dealing with guilt and remorse in very different ways: one suffering ever deepening mental anguish and sleepless nights, the other pragmatically shrugging off "the past" as he ambitiously plans his future.

Shot in London, with an all British cast, the standard of acting is of the highest quality. The brothers' contrasting personalities are played to perfection by Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor. Hayley Atwell (who like McGregor, also trained at the Guildhall School in London), would give Scarlett Johansson a run for her money as the sexy, sultry, siren, while Sally Hawkins shines as Farrell's homely, happy girlfriend.

With unremarkable, minimalist music from Philip Glass, matched by minimalist opening and closing credits, and editing which leaves-in scenes which should have been taken out, the film gives the impression that it was made in a hurry.

Yes, this is a film from a Woody Allen, who is not at his very best. However, at nearly 72 years of age and after writing and directing over 40 films, receiving 3 Oscars and over 77 other awards, his genius is surely entitled to a day off. This time it is the actors who carry the day.

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79 out of 107 people found the following review useful:

A Tragedy in the Classic Tradition

Author: Brent Trafton from Long Beach, CA
20 January 2008

"Cassandra's Dream" is the final installment of Woody Allen's London trilogy and concludes his best trio of films in over 20 years.

This is a totally uncompromising film. It's all dialog, character development, and acting. Any "action" takes place off camera and although there is bloodshed, we do not see a drop of blood on screen. This is in stark contrast to recent bloodbath type movies like "No Country for Old Men," "Sweeney Todd," and "There Will Be Blood."

Unlike "Match Point," this film is not overly derivative. The acting is good and Colin Farrell gives his best performance ever. Philip Glass's score helps convey the feeling of inevitability. However, the photography is kind of dull and fuzzy.

If you like old fashioned movies that rely of story, dialog, and acting; "Cassandra's Dream" is exactly the type of movie you thought they did not make any more.

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69 out of 103 people found the following review useful:

Nothing brilliant, but entertaining nonetheless

Author: nonsequitur247 from United States
18 November 2007

I saw this film yesterday, and went in with no idea what to expect. All I knew was it was a new Woody Allen movie with Collin Farrell, Ewan McGregor, and Tom Wilkinson, and supposedly rather dark.

Dark it was, but not overwhelmingly so. Farrell and McGregor play London brothers who are hard-up for cash, both with love interests that they're looking to take care of. Their rich Uncle Howard (Wilkinson) agrees to help them out as usual, if they do him a favor and "get rid of" a business relation who poses a threat to his finances. Despite many doubts, their situations are pressing, and the young men agree. The story then follows the different ways they deal with the factual immorality of what they have done.

It's not exactly a cheery film, but it isn't quite an intense, ominous drama, either, like the somewhat similar brothers-in-trouble based melodrama 'Before the Devil Knows You're Dead' that was recently released. In 'Dream,' there's a thin layer of dark humor that adds a refreshing twist here and there.

Everything was good on the acting end, though not mind-blowing; both McGregor and especially Farrell gave strong performances. The story, though rather predictable, is still enjoyable. Nice use of London and the British countryside on Allen's part. Overall, it's a solid film that will entertain, but that's about it.

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50 out of 75 people found the following review useful:

The Crime Of Dreaming

Author: dboyleukgroup from United Kingdom
6 February 2008

This is, perhaps, Woody Allen's darkest tale. No hope, no possibility of hoping. Dreaming seems so meaningless. The "I want" syndrome. Nothing will come out of it and shame on you for wanting it. Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor are wonderful in performances without frills or shine. Strangely enough, Allen shows a bit of compassion for his characters but no respect. He seems to despise them. It is merit of the two actors that we manage to stay with them without falling in love with them without even like them very much. The ending, I felt, was a bit of a cope out. Woody got to the gates of hell but didn't venture in. He leaves to us the details of all that darkness. The film, however, bears Woody Allen's name but could have been a film by Basil Dearden or J Lee Thompson and I mean that as a compliment.

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64 out of 106 people found the following review useful:

Great acting and interesting writing

Author: arvid-lundin from Sweden
28 December 2007

The writing in this film is brilliant, I think. Although you kinda know whats gonna happen next it never gets boring. It's really a very sad story for those involved, that deals with death and betrayal, but as a spectator you cant help but laugh at it. With worse actors the comical message would probably not reach the audience, but these people really does a good job. Ewan McGregor I've always trusted and he really delivers what in my eyes is his best performance up to date. Colin Farrell on the other hand isn't an actor I've believed in but he surprised me and is really convincing, and funny, especially when he turns into a nervous wreck.

Iam in the unique position of not having seen any of Woodys previous work before seeing this film. Unlike fans of Woody Allen, I can't see anything bad about this film. It's good entertainment, the best movie I've seen at the cinema this year, if anything it makes me wanna see more of Woodys films.

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34 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

Suspenseful and engaging film from Woody Allen

Author: Gordon-11 from Earth
16 February 2008

This film is about two brothers having to resort to criminal means in order to get funds to pay off loans and to pursue dreams.

Continuing with Woody Allen's infatuation with Britain, "Cassandra's Dream" is set in Britain with a predominantly British cast. Ewan McGregor is a rising star with great plans for the future, while Colin Farrell is a messed up guy who drinks and gambles excessively. Both of these brothers are convincingly introduced and portrayed. Their bond with each other, their past childhood, hopes and dreams are presented, making them very believable and real as people. When they are faced with a moral dilemma, the role seems to be reversed. As a result of this well written and executed plot, I find this film engaging and suspenseful.

I particularly like the moral struggle, and the contrast between the two brothers that play against their stereotype. Colin Farrell is particularly great in this film, his portrayal of a depressed person is convincing and moving.

It is also striking that Woody Allen has very much toned down the paranoia in "Cassandra's Dream". I miss the comedic paranoia such as "Anything Else". However, "Cassandra's Dream" is still very much a Woody Allen film, with the same witty and crisp dialogs, and right to the point scenes.

I find "Cassandra's Dream" very entertaining and gripping.

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77 out of 135 people found the following review useful:

TIFF07, review 5: Being rescued is one of my wicked dreams…Cassandra's Dream

Author: jaredmobarak from buffalo, ny, usa
17 September 2007

I went into the Toronto Film Fest screening of Woody Allen's latest movie Cassandra's Dream completely void of knowing anything about it. With no other preconception besides the fact that I really enjoyed Match Point, I sat down to see what was in store this time around. Would it be a comedy or a drama? Since his last entry, Scoop, was a comic one, which I have not yet seen, I was ready to be enthralled with a mystery of dramatic proportions. What a surprise, though, when around a quarter of the way through, this one turned from serious to amusing. I need to believe that the laughs are intentional because of the way in which the performers start to ham it up for the camera. No way would Woody allow that to happen if he didn't really want it to. Upon exiting the cinema—the glorious Elgin Theatre that reminded me a lot of Buffalo's own Shea's—many audience members seemed to be buzzing about whether they were laughing at good comedy or bad, over-the-top theatrics. I never second-guessed myself that the laughs were genuine and by doing so, I found that I loved this film.

Some of you may be aware that Allen had cast and started preproduction on a film directly before beginning Cassandra's Dream. For some reason the production fell through and was ultimately scrapped. No one knows if it was somehow reworked into the movie we see now, but I would guess that it was not. My first impression, once we discover the true impetus of the movie, was that this is Match Point with comedy. The plots of both follow a very similar path and the murder and guilt accompanied with it are one and the same. In the end, the only real difference between the two, besides the superficial supporting characters that are switched around, is the way in which both conclude. Whereas Match Point stays calm and methodical, Cassandra becomes very much a comedy of errors. It will really depend on your personal taste for which you feel succeeds more. Also, if you liked the first, you should like this new spin, but, if you disliked the first, you may find yourself enjoying this one because it seems to rectify a lot of what people criticized Match Point for.

Our entry point into the tale is with two brothers played by Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell. The two come from a modest family, whose father is a restaurant owner attempting to get McGregor's character to take over the business for him, while Farrell works at a garage fixing cars when not betting at the neighborhood track. Allen does a wonderful thing with these characters as he casts both against type. McGregor is usually the heart on his sleeve type and sympathetic in nature while Farrell generally plays the ladies-man lothario who is not afraid of a little scrap. Both are completely flipped on their heads here with Ewan getting ample opportunity to be cool under pressure, seeing the big picture at all times and Colin showing some real nice range as the depressed and conflicted one, unable to wrestle with his conscience. Much like Terry Gilliam's Brothers Grimm with Matt Damon and Heath Ledger cast as opposites, I believe this change of pace helps build up the atmosphere needed for the laughs to work. Farrell's facial expressions are priceless and McGregor's attempts to stay afloat, while the world falls apart around him, is top-notch.

The story itself is straightforward, much like Match Point. Both brothers find themselves in trouble financially, one for gambling debts and the other for a woman (the beautiful Hayley Atwell). Only their rich uncle will be able to save them both, however, the time has finally come where his charity will need to be exchanged for something he desperately needs. It is the proposition from Uncle Howard, a wonderful acting job by Tom Wilkinson, which really sets into motion the underlying plot point that props up the rest of the film. What he asks is impossible, yet after some persuading and bouts with ego, both brothers take the plunge and find they can't deal with the pressure it causes.

Even though I found a few of Woody's metaphors a bit too heavy-handed—"what's your favorite Greek tragedy?" and the interpretations of dreams occurring left and right—I found the acting and plot progression to be spot-on. Both leads carry the film on their backs and without those performances would have left the whole thing behind to drown. While it could seem a tad lazy that Allen would pretty much rehash what he did two years ago, it is different enough to succeed on its own. Cassandra's Dream could be looked on as a very capable companion piece to Match Point, (I may even go so far as saying I liked it better), but it also shows that a little comedy can go a long way. Hopefully Woody will delve more into this mixture of theatre's two faces and show how working together can create some wonderful art as well.

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27 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Crossing the Line of Morality

Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
21 September 2008

In London, the loser brothers from a working-class family, Ian (Ewan McGregor) and Terry (Colin Farrell), buy a second-hand sailboat name Cassandra's Dream for their leisure. Ian poses of big shot and has big dreams, saving money to invest in two hotels in California while the unstable Terry is an alcoholic gambler addicted in pills and mechanic. When Terry loses a great amount in a card game, Ian lends his savings to pay part of the sum Terry owes to loan sharks. When their wealthy uncle Howard (Tom Wilkinson) arrives in London coming from China, the brothers see the chance to borrow the money they need to quit the debt with the loan sharks and to invest in the hotel. However, Howard asks them to get rid of his former associated Martin Burns (Phil Davis) that is threatening him and his businesses. Ian and Terry have to decide whether they shall cross the line and help family or face the lack the money to resolve their issues.

"Cassandra's Dream" is a tragic thriller where the plot point is the moral decision of two simple but honest brothers whether they should cross the line, commit murder and live with that later. Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor have great performances and their characters are perfectly developed; Hayley Atwell is extremely gorgeous. However, Martin Burns is not well-developed, maybe intentionally by the writer and director Woody Allen, to keep a distance from the viewer the same way Ian and Terry do in the story. The tension in the plot is limited, actually prevailing the dramatic moral fight of Terry and Ian later in this engaging movie. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "O Sonho de Cassandra" ("The Cassandra's Dream")

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60 out of 107 people found the following review useful:

The Dream fades

Author: Merwyn Grote ( from St. Louis, Missouri
29 January 2008

An intriguing thing about Woody Allen's CASSANDRA'S DREAM is the presence of actor Phil Davis. The movie deals with a plot to kill Martin Burns, the character played by Davis. The character isn't particularly interesting and the reasons for wanting him dead remain mostly unclear, but, as Burns -- if you don't look too closely and from a distance -- Davis bears a vague resemblance to Woody: same thinning gray hair, prominent eyeglasses, gaunt face, skinny physique and taste in casual sport coats. The character gets precious little screen time and Davis gets very little opportunity to give Burns anything suggesting a personality, so the similarities are purely superficial -- but then, the resemblance CASSANDRA'S DREAM has to a Woody Allen movie is also vague and superficial.

It is, admittedly, unfair to criticize a filmmaker for not making a movie that fits neatly into a previously constructed mold, to try to do something different. And Woody has two established styles -- absurdist comedy and dark, oh-so serious melodrama. In his prolific career he has managed to run the gamut between the extremes, occasionally mixing tones, yet still creating films that have a distinctly "Woody Allen" quality. But, as was the case with the equally banal (and vastly overrated) MATCH POINT, the problem with CASSANDRA'S DREAM is that it is not only devoid of Woody's style, but of any style. As always, the film is technically proficient and slickly done, but there is a coldness, a lack of purpose behind CASSANDRA. Like many of his films, it is essentially a dramatized short story, but it lacks either his rambling, cynical sense of humor or a pointed moral that makes its serious tone have a bite. Even his tired trademark rant about the futility of life due to the absence of a benevolent god is given only slight attention.

The story is relatively simple: In London, two close, working-class brothers find themselves strapped for cash and seek to borrow money from their wealthy uncle. Uncle Howard is more than willing to oblige, but there is a catch; the boys have to earn the money by killing one of Uncle's business associates, the aforementioned Mr. Burns. From there, the story could go in two directions: a comedy of errors as the two hapless amateurs try to commit the crime or a suspenseful drama as the two get drawn deeper and deeper into a dark world that neither wants nor is prepared for. Allen takes the story in the latter direction, though unfortunately, as he has shown previously, he has no skill for creating suspense or directing scenes of violence.

CASSANDRA'S DREAM isn't a bad movie, but rather an inadequate one -- or more accurately, an incomplete one. The performances are just fine, with Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell as the brothers, Ian and Terry, doing their best to flesh out thinly drawn characters. Indeed, the actors could easily carry the material were it not for the weakness of Allen's poorly contrived narrative. Even accepting as a given that Ian and Terry are amateurs, their plan to kill Burns is embarrassingly simple-minded and illogical: If Uncle Howard is the one most likely to want Burns dead, wouldn't his poor nephews' sudden display of unaccountable wealth seem suspiciously convenient? The story needs to be fleshed out with believable complications and should build to an ironic twist that delivers a bang and not a mere whimper.

The screenplay that Allen offers is not without its merits. The two men played by McGregor and Farrell, are basically decent blokes, but their need for money and the way Uncle Howard (Tom Wilkinson) manipulates them to go bad in the name of family loyalty pushes them to rationalize their behavior. Further, Ian is ambitious and Terry is a gambler, and Allen subtly defines Uncle Howard as an ambitious gambler in his own right. But, the story also shows that Ian and Terry have parallels to Burns as well, similarities the script would have done better to explore with much greater interest. As is, the battle between good and evil as Allen lays it out is exceedingly lame; the "we-can't-do-this / we-have-to-do-this" dialogue is not backed up -- or hyped up -- with any dramatic tension. When the boys actually meet Burns and they (and we) find him to be a nice, friendly man who seems undeserving of his fate, the dramatic tension should be kicked up a notch. We are barely allowed to care for Terry and Ian to the point where we don't want them to commit the crime, but we should certainly care as well whether their innocent victim dies. As in MATCH POINT and CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS (and to some degree even MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY), Allen can't seem to muster up much interest, let alone sympathy, for the victims of the crimes he concocts. A recurring theme in so many of his films is characters who rant and rave about how unjust and cruel our supposedly godless world is, yet when Woody creates little worlds for his movies, the god he plays isn't any more compassionate or caring. What's missing -- and I know it is a tired complaint -- is Woody's sharp wit that not only blesses his best characters with the quirks and charm that make them humorous, but humane as well. When Woody defines his characters through wit, they come alive; when he defines them by their bitterness and discontent, they remain stagnant and uninteresting, and worse, largely one-dimensional. All of Woody's laborious moralizing dialogue never has as much power as one of his well constructed pieces of casual sarcasm.

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