September 2, 2007

Venice. Cassandra's Dream.

"Woody Allen's Cassandra's Dream is a humorless misfire that wastes the talents of some fine actors including Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell and Tom Wilkinson while continuing the mystery of Colin Farrell's appeal to major filmmakers," writes Ray Bennett in the Hollywood Reporter. "As writer, Allen offers lazy plotting, poor characterization, dull scenes and flat dialogue. As director, he makes no demands on the abundant talents of cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and composer Philip Glass."

Cassandra's Dream

This year's model "sends out more mixed signals than an inebriated telegraphist," writes Derek Elley in Variety. "The third consecutive Allen pic to be set in the UK, but the first to have no Americans in the cast, Cassandra's Dream leaves behind the touristy, upper-class POV of Match Point and Scoop to go down-and-dirty with more average Londoners. Here's where the problems start..."

"'It's simply a story of some very nice young people who get caught up, because of their weaknesses and because of their ambitions, in a tragic situation that they bring upon themselves,' Allen told reporters in Venice." And Reuters' Mike Collett-White is one who was there.

Joe Leydon comments on Allen's somewhat ridiculously over-modest claim that he's never influenced other filmmakers.

Updates, 9/3: "When Allen came on stage for his press conference in Venice's Casino yesterday, he cut a strangely fragile and melancholic figure," writes Geoffrey McNab in the Independent. "The response he was given in Venice yesterday was gentle and solicitous. It was as if a beloved elderly relative had come to town.... Allen loves London but there is little sign that he understands the rhythm or subcultures of the city in the same way that he does those of New York.... McGregor and Farrell both praised Allen fulsomely, but their accounts of working with him hint at why, perhaps, Cassandra's Dream seemed so under-realized. To put it bluntly, Allen may have made the film too quickly and too easily.... So what now for Allen? There is no sign that he is going to re-think his work methods. For as long as he is able, he seems determined to continue churning out a film a year."

In the London Times, Dalya Alberge has many of the same quotes from the press conference, including, "It just so happened that my most obvious strengths have been comic, but I wanted to write about tragic things. Finally I've got the chance to do that as I've got older. I do have a bleak, pessimistic view of life and man's fate, the human condition. But I do feel there are some extremely amusing oases in that morass. I've always felt that life itself - and this is no brilliant observation - is a tremendously tragic event, a real mess with comic moments. I've always wanted to be a tragic writer."

"Allen's ear for dialogue seems to have deserted him, he still flounders with the nuances of British society and the whole enterprise is shot flatly," writes the Telegraph's David Gritten. "Not even his hard-working cast's best efforts can keep it afloat."

"It's a Hitchcockian thriller without the master's touch, mildly entertaining but never gripping," writes Derek Malcolm for the Evening Standard. "No one, however, could complain about the acting.... Both Farrell and McGregor give lively and convincing performances as a pair of south London chancers, Wilkinson is as good as ever as uncle, and the girls are fine."

"Alternately sarcastic, condescending, moralistic and, yes, at times surprisingly dark, but never really sympathetic or compassionate, generating an off-kilter, unrealistic feeling, it will need all the help it can get out of the name value of its cast and director, to define its right position on the market place," advises Dan Fainaru in Screen Daily. "Wild Bunch will find Allen audiences to be restricted more than ever to the sophisticated upper echelons, its best chances remaining in Europe, where his reputation still carries a lot of weight."

Updates, 9/4: "Cassandra's Dream is mostly not successful, even if it is often compelling: its purpose is too confused, its execution too lazy, its handling of its performers too liberal," writes Time Out's Dave Calhoun. "But, to Allen's credit, he is still striving to create something fresh beyond the comedies for which he has become renowned and this time he has somehow crafted a wonky moral tragedy with hints of the British kitchen-sink drama. If anything, it's a surprising move for Allen, who is now further than ever - geographically and thematically - from the Manhattan comedies that first made his name."

"It's sad to see the downturn Allen's fortunes have taken over the last decade, and while this is certainly better than the nadir that was Hollywood Ending, one wonders if Allen would be best to have a break for a while (he's already filmed another since this one, set in Barcelona) and take stock of his career," suggests Mark Salisbury at In the Company of Glenn.

Update, 9/6: "If measuring with two yardsticks were allowed, it would be considered a fair but far from brilliant Woody Allen effort and a pretty good film if it had been made by anyone else," writes Boyd van Hoeij at

Update, 9/10. All the pointless junkets, all the idiotic questions at press conferences, all the strip searches at press screenings... the Observer's Jason Solomons reminds movie journalists why they still go at it: He's had a quiet moment with Woody Allen.

Covering the coverage: Venice 07. Index.

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Posted by dwhudson at September 2, 2007 3:55 PM


The appeal of Colin Farrell is no mystery. It's a simple matter of aesthetics.

Posted by: Karina at September 2, 2007 4:20 PM

What a shame. I'll probably pass on this now at TIFF.

Posted by: maya at September 3, 2007 7:25 PM


Posted by: MBT at September 11, 2007 11:36 PM