Tuesday, January 29, 2008

CASANDRA’S DREAM (2007)…..8.5/10

Woody Allen has certainly still got game. His most recent effort CASANDRA”S DREAM, which effectively erased SCOOP from my pained memory, is a film in step with MATCHPOINT (2005) and CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS (1989), but it unfolds in an even plainer fashion than either. It’s unlikely savagely humorous at times…if your adept to that brand, but is otherwise an acute and dismal affair. Even in the first hopeful rustlings, with brothers Ian and Terry musing over purchasing a small boat as a bright escape from their lives of stifling mediocrity, there lies the seed of an unraveling, perhaps merely for the coupling of the brothers’ aspirations with a dim overcast sky. What truly turns the tide is their rather wealthy uncle who is willing to help them in their considerable financial goals (Ian wants to invest in Hotels, and Terry has a severe gambling debt) if they agree to do a terrible deed for him in return.

McGregor and Farrell are magnificently anonymous in their roles. Not that they're void of detail, but that they embody the kind of nearsighted, everyman desperation of the working class, which the film deftly hinges on. What CASANDRA thrives on however is the inevitability of ambition, the persistence of choice, and the absence of justice as an empirical ideal.

Vilmos Zsigmond, who famously worked on THE DEER HUNTER (1978) is at the top of his understated game as cinematographer in CASANDRA’S DREAM, having the camera often seem light and afloat, but still (an apt quality considering where the films namesake derives), avoiding any tight close-ups or shots from afar. The camera stays low and within the plane of action, appropriately for a film that would surely suffer from any loss of groundedness. As for the resulting visual experience, we don’t become complicit in the drama or morality per se, but are certainly made to reside within it, unable to effect the outcome, watching all the same. The story is all the more interesting because of this inclusive groundedness.

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