Cassandra’s Dream (Weinstein, 2007) D: Woody Allen, w/ Ewan McGregor, Colin Farrell. Rating: NN; DVD package: n/a
Somebody, probably Aristotle, called tragedy the noblest form of drama. When it works, nothing hits home like that moment when the tragic hero realizes that he (it’s almost always a he) has brought about his own downfall by distorting what was once best in him (think Al Pacino at the end of Godfather II). So a big hand to Woody Allen for even attempting a classical tragedy.
Terry (Colin Farrell) owes thousands in gambling debts, and his loving brother, Ian (Ewan McGregor), has an investment opportunity that will let him escape their father’s restaurant business. Their only hope is to borrow from wealthy uncle Howard (Tom Wilkinson), but he won’t come across unless they commit a crime for him.
It’s a good story, and Allen, staying rigorously true to the genre, works out the brothers’ downfall strictly in terms of character. The problem, and it’s huge, lies in the writing. Some scenes do nothing but repeat what we’ve already heard; some have no purpose at all. The dialogue is leaden and obvious, stating themes that haven’t been worked into the fabric of the drama. Several of the characters, notably the brothers’ father and Ian’s actor girlfriend, serve no dramatic purpose. As a result, our interest sags repeatedly and occasionally sinks to zero.
McGregor and Farrell are enjoyably convincing as the brothers, but some of the other performances seem ill-judged, particularly Wilkinson’s (he’s not at all credible as a successful doctor), and some are complete blanks, notably John Benfield’s (the father) and Hayley Atwell’s (Ian’s girlfriend).
I’m guessing all of this could have been fixed with rewrites and rehearsals. I also wish they’d included some making-of material. Oh, well.
EXTRAS Widescreen. English, Spanish subtitles.