2008-02-01 / Community

MovieScope

'Cassandra's Dream' - Murder Most Woody
Review By Robert Snyder

Speaking of a filmmaker's receipt of critical appreciation and respect, Woody Allen once said, "If you make comedies, they put you at the baby table."

With his second "serious" film shot in England, the former comedic writer/ director is definitely not sitting at the baby table. There is nothing funny about "Cassandra's Dream," although it being a Woody Allen film, you cannot help wondering whether he wasn't tempted to throw in a zinger or two when plot tensions soar over the top.

Swimming in the same dark dramatic waters as is Director Sidney Lumet in "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," Allen also tells the story of two brothers, who are sucked over their heads into a cesspool of crime with fatal results.

"Cassandra's Dream" has Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell playing Ian and Terry, lower middle class London siblings itching to have a taste of the high life. While auto mechanic Terry dives deep into debt betting on poker games and dog races, Ian has his eye on a high-maintenance beauty, Angela, (Hayley Atwell), who aspires to theater and screen stardom. Bored with working for his father (John Benefield) at the family restaurant, Ian has visions of big-time hotel ownership in mythical California, visions that he uses to seduce Angela.

Into the brothers' struggle comes Uncle Howard (Tom Wilkinson), a seeming financial fairy godfather, praised for years by their mother (Clare Higgins) as a man made of money. The brothers present their problems and plans to their uncle, who with a grand sweep of his hand, agrees to help - but for a price, a Faustian price. The boys must bump off a business associate before the colleague drops a bomb that means imprisonment for Uncle forever.

The simple lives of Terry and Ian now enter a new sinister level, whereupon crossing a line, they will never return. Providing powerful Hitchcockesque suspense, Allen draws us into a world where innocent dreams become nightmares of no escape. And it's no laughing matter.

"Cassandra's Dream" boasts brilliant performances in an intense drama that will keep its creator far away from the baby table.

Maybe Woody will still stop by once in a while to give us children a laugh or two.

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