With a couple of additional rewrites, "Cassandra's Dream," the final flick in Woody Allen's Brit trilogy, might have actually been a film I could recommend.
Woody Allen is, in my estimation, one of Hollywood's most inexplicable filmmaking legends.
He's a respectable independent filmmaker, certainly. Legend? Hardly. Yet, somehow, Allen's low-budget and equally low box-office cinemas of self-indulgence manage to attract stellar casts and media attention year after year.
I suppose that's the privilege that winning an Oscar affords you, but it's been 30 years since his deservedly acclaimed "Annie Hall" gave allen the Best Director Oscar and subsequent years have seen Allen showered with acclaim and Oscar nominations (and one more win!) for films that have been, essentially, different shades of his same ole' story.
"Cassandra's Dream" is, in reality, nothing more than a different setting for the conflicts of "Match Point" and, even more obviously, a direct re-telling of Sidney Lumet's far superior "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead."
The title for "Cassandra's Dream" refers to a longshot horse whose sudden burst of energy allows brothers Terry (Colin Farrell) and Ian (Ewan McGregor) to purchase their long-desired boat that, in turn, fuels their long-desired jaunt to the right side of the tracks.
Of course, life is never so easy...especially in the neurotic world of Woody Allen. Soon enough, the boys are back in trouble again and seeking the help of wealthy, generous Uncle Howard(Tom Wilkinson), a plastic surgeon in his own trouble and who presents the boys with a golden opportunity IF they are willing to "get rid of" his problem.
Much as was true with Allen's last film, "Scoop," "Cassandra's Dream" would be a darn fine film if Allen himself could simply get out of the way. Farrell and McGregor make believable brothers, at least in appearance, but Allen's script waxes philosophical in place of anything resembling a cohesive storyline or, god forbid, actual character development.
I confess that I have a bias, however. I have an extremely hard time accepting morality plays from a man who married his daughter and then explained it away by saying "She wasn't LEGALLY my daughter."
My acknowledged bias aside, "Cassandra's Dream" is easily the weakest of the Brit trilogy. Yet, like the vast majority of Allen's films, it's not a particularly bad film...it simply isn't as good as it should be. Beyond Allen's shell of a script, "Cassandra's Dream" is weighted down by strong individual performances that never really gel into one and a Philip Glass score wholly inappropriate to the film's proceedings.
While McGregor offers the more consistent performance and Cockney accent, Farrell flexes his acting muscles by offering a more vulnerable performance than one might expect. Hayley Atwell shines nicely as Ian's trophy girlfriend and,of course, Tom Wilkinson also offers his usual strong performance.
Allen, existing only as writer/director here, doesn't shine in a film that only serves to validate that "Match Point" was a fluke and Allen's creative juices have simply stopped flowing as he creates morality tales that seemingly reflect more about his inner conflicts than his cinematic genius.
While "Cassandra's Dream" is far from a nightmare, perhaps the time has come for Allen to do what everyone else in Hollywood is doing and offer up "Annie Hall 2: The Neurosis Returns."