Cassandra’s Dream marks Woody Allen’s third and final movie, at least for now, set and shot in and around London. It stands apart from the first two, Match Point and Scoop, in many ways, though, chief amongst these the fact that the cast features no Americans – which means Scarlett Johansson is nowhere to be seen here – and, this time around, none of our main characters belong to the country’s privileged upper class. Ian and Terry, played by Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell are good kids, or at least they probably were. They’re men now, if you’re one for specifics. These days, Ian runs their father’s restaurant, a job he loathes as much as he loathes his roots, while Terry works as a mechanic and whiles away his free time gambling on just about anything he can.
Sometimes Terry's even lucky, which is why the movie starts off with them buying a new sailboat, named Cassandra’s Dream; it becomes the source of their greatest happiness together, and represents an escape from the drudgery of life. For a moment there, that drudgery looks all about to change, too. Hell, Terry is on a winning streak and Ian, generally a whiny bitch compared to Terry’s easygoing nature, has met an actress he’s been shagging like mad, and he’s convinced he's about to buy into a lucrative hotel deal in Los Angeles. Oh, but good times never last, at least they shouldn’t when you’re watching a thriller like this.
Terry loses big, the equivalent of $180,000. This is a lot of money, and the people he owes will do a lot more than whack him in the shins. Amazingly, Uncle Howard (Tom Wilkinson), their mother’s rich brother, a plastic surgeon who has for years protected the family with his financial generosity, shows up right at that moment. What a coincidence! He’s got his own problem, a whistle blower who is about to send him to jail. All the brothers have to do is off this douche with a conscience and Howard will not only bail Terry out, he’ll loan him the money to start the sporting goods store he’s always wanted and he will loan Ian the money to actually buy into his silly hotel scheme.
Terry and Ian, however, are good kids, if you remember. Fine, men, whatever. They want no part in murder and say so, but then Ian realizes his actress galfriend is a talentless slut willing to sleep her way into roles, and the only way to keep her is to move her to LA with him. Ian, driven by two things – his dick and money that makes him act like a dick – quickly pressures Terry into going along with the scheme, and, voila, murder most foul follows. It’s actually a pretty suspenseful sequence, surprisingly so for Allen who doesn’t usually shoot such things all that well. Probably because he doesn’t do them that often.
Afterwards, Terry goes bonkers. He’s convinced he’s actually going to go to hell for his crime and, after many sleepless nights, pills, and booze, tells Ian he’s going to confess. Ian, as you can imagine, is opposed to that course of action. Vehemently. Now, I don’t want to say what happens next, but let’s just say it’s a bit expected. I mean, if you don’t know where this movie is going, you’re probably asleep.
Farrell delivers a brilliant performance that reminds us he’s capable of more than super-villains and bisexual Greek conquerors, and the overall result of the movie ain’t exactly below spending your time on, but the truth is Match Point delivers more on every level. Compared to it, Cassandra’s Dream is just a bit…well, dull.