'Cassandra's Dream' is a Woody Allen film, starring Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor... what's not to like? A lot.
Farrell (Terry) and McGregor (Ian) play two East End London brothers with big dreams. There's no end to the amount of wheeling or dealing these two try their hand at in order to hit the big time. However Lady Luck isn't on their side and runs out when Terry gambles and loses big, ending up £90,000 in the red. The duo turn to their flush uncle Howard (Wilkinson) for help; he obliges, but with a big price tag of his own - he needs the lads to get 'rid' of a little problem threatening his financial future.
The title, which is also the name of a boat the two brothers bought, is based on the Greek Tragedy of the same name, a knowing tell that this is one of Allen's serious outings.
Whilst the legendary helmer has brought us some of the greatest films in the history of the artform ('Manhattan', 'Annie Hall', 'Crimes and Misdemeanours' to name but a few), more recently Woody's crown is slipping. 'Cassandra's Dream' has a similar existential crisis that Allen delivered in his two other London-based films, 'Scoop' and 'Match Point' - it barely worked in the latter and it certainly doesn't work here.
There is very little opportunity for audiences to invest in the film. For one McGregor's sorry excuse for a London accent is ridiculous, yet not as bad as Farrell's paltry attempts. The Irish star has turned in some noteworthy performances to date but this is not one of them. He buffoons his way through the heavy emotions his character is burdened with while McGregor runs around haplessly in the background.
However the blame does not rest wholly on the high calibre cast (which also includes 'Happy-Go-Lucky's Sally Hawkins). Allen's original way of filmmaking - short rehearsals with even shorter shooting periods, based around a script that he writes and only lets actors see their own scenes – doesn't gel here. The dialogue is flat and jarring, the plot is clichéd, the moral dilemma is patchy and unsubstantiated and the ending is abrupt.
As a Greek tragedy performed in the West End, with a cast of this calibre, this could have been heavenly, however in its current dull format 'Cassandra's Dream' is more audience nightmare.
Thankfully the 72-year-old's latest, 'Vicki Christina Barcelona' with his muse Scarlett Johansson, Penélope Cruz and recent Oscar winner Javier Bardem, has received a rapturous response at Cannes so maybe Woody was just sleeping and now thankfully wide awake.