Magazine article Screen International

'Mean Dreams': Cannes Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Mean Dreams': Cannes Review

Article excerpt

Dir: Nathan Morlando. Canada. 2016. 108mins

Director Nathan Morlando makes a concerted effort to inject dynamism and emotion into the telling of Mean Dreams, but fights a losing battle against the cliched writing and some risible plotting. As such, this tale of star-crossed teenage lovers, ill-gotten gains and the vengeful father on their trail emerges as an unexceptional B-movie thriller. Handsome settings and the promise of the young players are the positive elements of a film that lacks any obvious selling points, and seems likely to struggle outwith the spotlight of the festival circuit.

The film begins promisingly enough, with Morlando investing the time in creating a plausible relationship between teenage farm boy Jonas (Josh Wiggins) and his new neighbour Casey (Sophie Nelisse). The boy's bashful manner and shy smiles are joined with her spark and stoicism to create a couple in which we can believe. There is enough backstory and seeds of mystery to keep us intrigued. We know that Casey has been forced to move to this rural backwater because of something in her father's past. We know that Jonas is at odds with his spineless father and a mother lost to a haze of presumed alcoholism.

So far, so good until writers Kevin Coughlin and Ryan Grassby press the overwrought button and Bill Paxton swaggers into view as Casey's father Wayne, clearly a graduate from the Max Cady school of heartless bullies. He is soon beating Casey, threatening to drown Jonas and demanding that the friendship end. …

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