Mean Dreams Reviews
Marvelously acted by Paxton, & two young 'uns, Mean Dreams is an exploration well worth your time.
As far I know, there's a thin difference between Canadian films and the US. Just like the Hong Kong's Cantonese and the Chinese Mandarin films are. They exchange starts and crews, but most of the Canadian film I've seen were French language. Those English films are not as popular as the Hollywood's on the world stage. Lots of good films go unnoticed like the recent film 'The Confirmation' I reviewed a few months ago. If this same film were made in Hollywood, would have been considered an average. But for the Canadian standards, I mean they usually won't make the big budget fancy films, hence it is so much better.
This is a coming-of-age thriller drama. Revolves around two teenagers as they run away with a bag full of cash from their parents. It all begins with a girl, who arrive in a small town with her father. Soon she makes a friend with her neighbour boy. His parents are neglect kind when it comes to him, and her father is an alcoholic, abuser, as well as a dirty cop. One day her father comes standing between them, that's the opportunity they were looking for to run away, since being with their parents has not been any good. But her father is not in the mood to let them go as his money was involved. So the running and chasing game begins.
You might say, you have seen this story in all the similar themed films, no matter its Hollywood, European or the Korean. That's what I thought too, but still it is a very good film. I'm not expecting it to impress you as well. If it does, then that's great. But it all depends on your taste in films, quantity of films you watch regularly and most importantly your expectation from it. It was like another 'Cop Car', but there's no car involved in the core of the plot. It's all about the money and the mad-cop father. It looked kind of western style, or the tale that very much suitable for the humid California settings.
?It's no ocean, but it's ours.?
In this, it was always cloudy, wet and chilling moisture atmosphere where all the chase takes place. The great locations that avoids to get in any major town/city. Other than 3-4 main cast, there's no one else. Because most of the scenes are between the boy and the girl and sometimes her cop father in isolated places. There's a dog in the film, but not focused enough to classify it as a dog film from one of the angles. The pace of the narration was so fast with not too long or very short overall runtime. It had many twists and turns, yet definitely you would predict most of them.
Nice performances, by both the youngsters. As usual Bill Paxton nailed it in his negative role. It was one of his final films before his death early this year. It was a small appearance, but a prominent role that I surely would remember it for him. I was not anticipating anything extraordinary. But when I learnt about its synopsis, I thought I understood everything about the story there itself. Though watching it in the film was a different experience and one of the reason was, it is a different cast and atmospheric setting.
I felt they should have improvised in some of the parts, but at the end I'm satisfied being what it is. Especially in the initial stage, the intro was so simple and skips fast to the next stage. I did not fully understand any of the characters about their earlier life events to the point where this story commenced. But going forward, I started to have an idea, seeing how the tale has progressed. That really helped to come to the point directly.
There are no smart scenes like the film characters to take measures to counter the threats in a fancy way. That's done mainly to impress the viewers. This screenplay tried to be realistic as much as possible, but there's a couple of scenes that could only work in cinematic. I think that's sometimes necessary for a film. After all it is a film and made for entertainment purpose, not a documentary feature. But overall film was much better with enough tense moments and interesting developments. Lots of good films released in the last 12 months and this is not one of them, but considering it is from Canada, surely it is. Because I've already given the reason for that in the very first paragraph. So thumbs up for it from my side.
But there are some rather beautiful scenes between the two young stars (a new boy in town who meets the girl next door) as their relationship develops. A moment that stands out for me in the film is at a time when the truth about Casey's family life (Caraway's daughter) is beginning to surface. They stand looking at the horizon, dreaming about what it means to escape their past and to live for a different future. They feel stuck, and what this brings to mind for her in this moment is a longing for the ocean for the sea. This is where she is able to gain perspective, as stuck in the mud of her home life, she admits that although she can still see, she can't quite see far enough.
And this is really the trajectory of the narrative, that pushes us towards some complicated choices and decisions on the part of the young stars. Underlying all of this are questions of forgiveness, of letting go of the past, of confronting fears. And by the end they are faced with the toughest question of all, one that will determine how the both of them move forward. Of course it all plays out in what is a thriller type film, but it is a thriller that happens to have a lot of heart at the same time.
In this film, Paxton plays Wayne Caraway, a rural Michigan police officer and single dad, who is pretty bad at both roles - and a pretty bad person in general. When local boy Jonas Ford (Josh Wiggins, the star of 2015's "Max") starts seeing Wayne's teenage daughter, Casey (Sophie NÚlisse, who played the title role in 2013's "The Book Thief"), Wayne is pretty... mean about shattering Jonas' dreams of getting closer to Casey. Mostly it's because Jonas isn't shy about trying to protect Casey from Wayne's abuse, and because Wayne doesn't want Jonas nosing around and discovering any of his other... activities.
After Jonas fails to get his father (Joe Cobden) or Wayne's boss (Colm Feore) to intervene on Casey's behalf, he takes matters into his own hands. When he witnesses an example of just how bad a man that Wayne is, Jonas steals some money, grabs Casey and hits the road. Of course, Wayne comes after his daughter - with a (literal) vengeance. As Jonas and Casey struggle to get away from Casey's dad for good, they confront the harsh realities of life on the run (especially as it pertains to two teenagers in the middle of nowhere), break some laws and put their safety and the safety of others at risk along the way.
"Mean Dreams" is a small, but entertaining coming-of-age movie. The two teen protagonists aren't quite Bonnie and Clyde, but their saga is engaging and their love story is affecting. NÚlisse and Wiggins are two rising young stars whose emerging talents shine through in sympathetic roles and Paxton does his usual expert work as one really bad dude. The script (by Kevin Coughlin and Ryan Grassby) and the direction (by Nathan Morlando) keep the action and dialog both unusually grounded and fairly unpredictable, especially for this kind of film. The score and the cinematography (filmed creatively and beautifully in northern Ontario and Sault Ste. Marie) are also very good, especially for a movie made on a small budget. The film is a bit lacking in gravitas, but it's worth a look - to see Paxton in his last major role - and for the overall quality of the film itself. "B+"