Cassandra’s Dream (review)

Woody Allen’s latest film feels like something out his early career, or maybe even something that long predates him. This no-fuss, bare-bones crime drama is old-fashioned in a way that’s crisp and refreshing, clipping along at a cut-to-the-chase pace the eschews unnecessary flourishes to focus entirely on performances that have the immediacy of a stage play from a cast in roles that feel bracingly upside-down for them. Colin Farrell (Miami Vice) and Ewan McGregor (Miss Potter) are two London brothers, one confident and successful, the other an insecure mess… but it’s McGregor as the suave and smooth one, and Farrell as the human disaster, and it’s deep-down thrilling, if you’re a fan of the craft of acting as true talents handle it, to see them stretch like this — it is delightfully unexpected to see Farrell, especially, who usually projects a pure, dense poise, as so vulnerable and so doubting a character. It’s too bad, then, that the plot, about the brothers agreeing to do a bad deed they would rather not do, is nowhere near as interesting as how they work it. It reduces the film to an exercise in cinematic meta, one not truly engaging on its own merits.

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