Cassandra's Dream


Reviewed by: George Williamson

Cassandra's Dream
"Woody Allen is responsible for many favourite films and a fair number of questionable ones; Cassandra's Dream is by far his worst yet."

Is blood thicker than water? Where do you draw the line? Murder?

Ian (Ewan McGregor) and Terry (Colin Farrell) are good Cockney brothers - they support each other and honour their families. But even good lads have problems - Terry's gambling addiction has put him 90,000 quid in the red and has him back on the bottle. Ian is desperately wanting to make it big and strike out on his own but shackled by his loyalty, stuck running the family restaurant for his frail father. When their rich and generous Uncle comes to town they ask for a little financial assistance, but it turns out that Howard has his own favour to ask – just a small act of murder...

Copy picture

Cassandra's Dream rather fancies itself as a Greek tragedy – the plot a maelstrom of murder, guilt and loyalty – but has relocated itself to present day London. The main problem with attempting such a transposition is that unless all of the acting is perfect, it's going to feel like you're watching EastEnders. Sally Hawkins (last seen in Mike Leigh's brilliant Happy-Go-Lucky) is excellent as Kate, Terry's concerned girlfriend, and Tom Wilkinson and Phil Davis could perform their roles in their sleep, but the big-name leads fail to deliver; Ewan McGregor is one phoneme away from Frank Spencer and Colin Farrell struggles to keep his accent credible. They both provide overly theatrical performances at the expense of plausibility.

Woody Allen is responsible for many favourite films and a fair number of questionable ones; Cassandra's Dream is by far his worst yet. Some of the blame can be levelled at the actors but the plot is tedious, populated with lazy stereotypes, and the dialogue is a cheeky cockney cliché – an American's imagining of Londoners. The attempts to style this as a Greek tragedy are limited to having a plot about blood being thicker than water and an actor name-dropping Medea halfway through. Even the Philip Glass score appears to be in on the act – his trademark minimal soundtrack style is eschewed in favour of bloated strings that soar operatically and only further highlight the melodramatic acting.

Cassandra's Dream could be intentionally stagy and overwrought in order to bolster the classic tragedy comparisons, unfortunately it backfires horribly – the film is insufficiently stylised to be interesting and just seems over acted and under plotted. Fans of Allen's older movies should avoid this at all costs.

Reviewed on: 16 May 2008
Share this with others on...
Cassandra's Dream packshot
Two brothers in need of money are confronted with a terrible proposition.
Amazon link

Read more Cassandra's Dream reviews:

Jennie Kermode *****

Director: Woody Allen

Writer: Woody Allen

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Colin Farrell, Sally Hawkins, Tom Wilkinson, Hayley Atwell, John Benfield, Clare Higgins, Philip Davis

Year: 2007

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US, UK


Glasgow 2008

Search database: