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Cassandra’s Dream

A modern Greek tragedy set in working-class London

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In writer-director Woody Allen's third London-based film, a pair of brothers -- Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell -- need cash, and fast. One, disguised as a prosperous entrepreneur, is keeping a romance afloat; the other's got huge gambling debts. As the consequences creep closer, benevolent Uncle Howard (Tom Wilkinson) arrives from abroad and offers a bailout in trade for a murder. Even if you're not a scholar of Greek myths (Cassandra = unheeded warnings), you'll likely guess where the story is headed. And like similar stories, the set-up is more intriguing than the play-out. Additionally, the British working class and its frustrations are not Allen's métier; the dialogue feels especially lacking in naturalism. Thus, I never really tasted the brothers' growing desperation and descent into darkness. What should have been a shocking conclusion instead felt abrupt and perfunctory. In its favor, Cassandra has Allen's long conversation-filled takes that show off the actors. Watching his leads here -- plus old hand Wilkinson, in his small role -- keeps the film enjoyable. Squirrel Hill [capsule review]

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