A flawed film, especially one like this that dares to dream, is ambitious and made with passion can often be as interesting, or more so, than a more traditionally 'good' one. Dreamland is beautifully photographed, the setting, which I've never seen used in a film before, is wonderfully detailed and the performances, for the most part, are very strong. It suffers from a screenplay that is, at times, amateurish and by-the-numbers but is, at other times, brave, insightful, of rarely-seen maturity.
Consider the scene, for example, where Agnes Bruckner and Justin Long meet just before he leaves to Las Vegas. What happens there, and more importantly what does not happen, is indicative of the level of maturity and ambition behind the movie. It is, I feel, the strongest scene in the film: for a while it seems to be heading in one direction but then, very consciously, heads in another, the only direction it could possibly take, all things considered.
Agnes Bruckner is very good in the central role, and only made my crush on her grow. Justin Long does not look like he can play a lick of basketball, but it is nice to see him in a different kind of role, he brings good natured sweetness to the character which is escencial, John Corbetti, as Bruckner's father, is great, and Gina Gershon is very good in a tiny role. Kelli Garner is perhaps the weakest of the bunch, but it is only noticeable in the most emotional sequences, and even then barely so. My crush on her remains undiminished.
The film's flaws begin to show when the screenplay begins to go on auto-pilot. There is a crisis moment (the kind of false crisis the film had, up until this point, very much avoided) and then the plot kicks in. The ending is rushed and even nonesensical. Even so, it manages to work on the most basic of levels because of the strength of the performances, photography, direction and score.
A flawed film, to be sure, but a work of passion. Extremely beautiful to look at, absolutely harmless to sit through and a very good debut from someone who it might be worth keeping an eye on.