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Monday, July 14, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 59.0° F  A Few Clouds
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Cassandra's Dream: Oh,brother

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Woody Allen takes another look at morality and fate in Cassandra's Dream, which stars Ewan McGregor and Colin Ferrell as a pair of brothers who surprise themselves in how far they're willing to go to get ahead in the world. And I wish I could say I believed a single word either one of them spoke - the actors, I mean. The script is so amateurish it turns the entire cast into scam artists, trying to sell us a bill of goods even they must know is worthless. Working in London for the third film in a row, Allen hasn't sunk this low since...well, since Scoop, his last film. The difference is that this one's a drama, not a comedy, unless you count the titters I valiantly suppressed until I was safely in my car. You heard it here first, folks: Woody's funny again!

What he was going for is anybody's guess - a Hitchcockian-type thriller, perhaps. That would explain the somber score that Philip Glass has concocted. And it makes sense with the plot, which has McGregor and Ferrell trying their hands at murder to further their respective financial positions. That they're just barely up to the task gives the movie its only tension, especially during the murder scene, which Allen handles with admirable restraint. Alas, everything else is bombastically off-key, from the fact that McGregor and Ferrell don't even seem like acquaintances, let alone brothers, to the clumsy way the dialogue pushes the plot along. Oh, and did I mention that Allen keeps posing the two leads behind bars? We got it the first time, Woody.

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