Cassandra’s Dream
Directed by Woody Allen (R)

Two working-class brothers struggling for a better life agree to commit a murder.


Cassandra’s Dream leaves you with the sense that Woody Allen has made this movie before, said Scott Tobias in The Onion. Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell play working-class English brothers looking for “a shortcut to the good life.” They dream big but have little: McGregor longs to invest in real estate yet lacks the capital. Farrell, a mechanic with a taste for gambling and booze, just wants to set his life straight. Financial relief comes in the form of Uncle Howard (Tom Wilkinson), a plastic surgeon who promises to help if they agree to take out the whistle-blower who’s threatening to ruin his career. Allen steals a plot from his own Crimes and Misdemeanors, said Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly. In fact, it’s the same one he stole for his recent Match Point: Ordinary people are compelled to commit a murder. But the brilliantly played Match Point “wove avarice, duplicity, and fatal attraction into a caper worthy of Tom Ripley,” while Cassandra’s Dream works from a narrative too straight to cause any palpable tension. Nevertheless, the murder and the steps leading up to it are “nerve-racking and appropriately creepy,” said David Denby in The New Yorker. “In his Raskolnikov mood” the director shows us, with Farrell, a new kind of Allen character: a decent guy with a guilty conscience. Whereas in the past Allen usually let his criminals off, Cassandra’s Dream makes them own up to their crimes.