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CASSANDRA'S DREAM

I didnít really enjoy last yearís Before the Devil Knows Youíre Dead.  Admittedly, my reaction to it was entirely unreasonable as it was based on an error on my part: I had somehow thought, in advance, that it was a black comedy of sorts and I was disappointed when it turned out not to be.  And I think, as I watched it, my disappointment turned into resentment as it steadfastly refused to become one.  This despite the immediate improvement that might have been realized by having a little something to grin at. 

Itís a shame to see actors like Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke, whom I would normally enjoy watching, and feeling annoyed by the project theyíre in, however unfair Iím being in the process.  Itís even worse to sit watching Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor looking as though they are acting out the earlier disappointment all over again in Cassandraís Dream.   Itís as if I had tried explaining to Woody Allen that the only thing that might have made Before the Devil Knows Youíre Dead seem any better would have been another bad family drama that even more desperately needed an injection of humor - and he generously set about trying to supply one.  

Both movies involve brothers with money problems and a desire for more of it.  Both movies involve bland parents with bland businesses.  Both movies involve plans for rapid advancement with fewer chances for success than the Spears family at a parenting seminar, and almost as many recriminations. 

It doesnít seem out of place to have Sidney Lumet and Woody Allen in competition with each other Ė I just hadnít expected that they would be competing to see who could disinterest me the most.  I think Woody wins this one as I can imagine enjoying Devil more had I not mistaken it so badly for something other than it was, whereas I can only imagine enjoying Cassandraís Dream more if it had been shorter.  And thatís despite an ending so seemingly abrupt that it would normally annoy me even further not to have one or two extra scenes of resolution - whereas this time I just got up and left, relieved to escape before the devil knew I was disappointed again.

-Anthony Sheppard
tony@retrocrush.com

 

 

 

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