Cassandra’s Dream: two brothers in financial trouble turn to their wealthy uncle for help… First off, this has more simplistic teenage-level melodrama than a papa roach album. It’s also full of good actors doing terrible acting, with dodgy accents… it’s hard to tell if it’s the shit script, stock characters (forenames only – a major pet hate of mine), soap-opera story or just bad direction. The characters are established through teeth-grindingly clichéd dialogue, not to mention that the entire story can be guessed at least ten minutes ahead at all times. To top it all off, it’s yet another Woody Allen film set in a romanticised version of a city, crammed with ra-ra artisan characters who have old-timey sensibilities (like a countryside drive in the old motor to a meadow picnic). By the time that Tom Wilkinson gets to inject a bit of acting and class in to this the film is already dead. Cassandra’s Dream is a piss-poor excuse for a tragedy; the biggest example of which is that this is what Allen’s career had come to.
Henry’s Crime: Henry takes the blame for a robbery he knew nothing about, does three years in prison, and upon release hatches a plan to actually rob the bank: he’s done the time, why not commit the crime? My biggest issue with this is that, as a protagonist, Henry is one of the most uninteresting characters to lead a film – the personification of tedium and aimless. Vera Farmiga – playing an unpolished actress – does a really good job, where as Reeves has had a whole career being 2nd rate and seeing him ‘poorly read’ from a play-script actually blew up my irony-o-meter. James Caan steals the show as the loveable ‘confidence man’ – easily with the best character, best lines and all-round best performance. For an indie-rom-com-robbery-caper there were only 2-3 laughs, and it just felt like a really, really basic ‘bank job’ that wanted to be well grounded [like The Lookout] but was heavily laced with absurdity. Also, of all the plays to use in this type of film a high-brow Chekhov tragedy just didn’t fit the bill – and all the readings/scenes from that script really brought the tone down. There are a some elements that are good ideas; such as the prisoner that doesn’t want to leave prison, unlikely friendships, a bank robber being forced to take up acting, and changing the ending of an established play – however, the final scenes are a cinematic train wreck that you have to watch through your fingers. It’s all somewhat unfortunate because concept is great, and with this cast it definitely looks worth a punt, but having seen the film I realise why the distributors buried it in a busy month.