review for Cassandra's Dream on AllMovie

Cassandra's Dream (2007)
by Derek Armstrong review

If Match Point reinvented Woody Allen as a director capable of producing a taut thriller containing almost no humor, then Cassandra's Dream makes his limitations in that form abundantly clear. Allen's third straight movie in his "England period" (after Match Point and Scoop) is all talk and no action, and it wastes a very good cast. Whereas Match Point constituted an exciting confluence of plotting and dialogue that didn't rely on Allen's penchant for neurotic one-liners, Cassandra's Dream seems lost without Allen's trademark touches. The dialogue is utterly without nuance, and there's a huge torrent of it. Which is problematic, because it's devoted exclusively to exposition about what people have already done, what people are currently doing, what people are planning to do, and what people wish they had or had not already done. Most films can't support a single character who obsesses and vacillates in a way we associate with Shakespeare's Hamlet, but this film has two of them -- the brothers played by Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor. To be fair, Farrell does most of the fussing, while McGregor tends to be more action-oriented, but both become impossible to tolerate over the course of the narrative. Again, to be fair, the thing they're fussing about -- murder -- is indeed worthy of the mental energy. But so much dialogue is frittered away on the basic logistical elements of the plot that there's almost nothing left for character development. And it would have been interesting indeed to see a movie in which characters played by Farrell, McGregor, and the always superlative Tom Wilkinson were fully developed, rather than just stick figures walking through a stiff morality play.