Set in contemporary London, Cassandra's Dream is a powerful and thrilling story about two brothers who are desperate to better their troubled lives. One is a chronic gambler in debt over his head, and the other is a young man in love with a beautiful woman he has recently met. Their lives gradually become entangled in a sinister situation with intense and unfortunate results. (Weinstein Company)
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They begin as happy go lucky brothers who are more or less goaded into this awful act by their uncle played by Tom Wilkinson whom they adore as their mother is constantly singing her brothers' praises. It's a wonderful movie, completely entertaining. And it shows the brilliance of Allen as he can be so versatile, you won't hear any Gershwin tunes in this flick!
Terry & Ian are brothers (played by Colin Farrell & Ewan McGregor). Their father (John Benfield) owns a restaurant where Ian works as a manager. Terry is a car mechanic & is addicted to gambling. Ian borrows fancy cars from Terry's customers to show off for women.
The two buy a boat, putting in money together but then Terry wins big on a dog race & pays the boat off. They name her "Cassandra's Dream." Enter greek mythology. Cassandra was cursed by Apollo (god of light/enlightenment) so that she had the gift of prophecy but no one believed her. She went mad.
In one scene of "Cassandra's Dream," party goers are discussing Greek tragedies. Ian's girlfriend Angela lauds "Medea" as her favorite. But then she makes the mistake of saying Clytemnestra is her favorite character in that play (Clytemnestra is in Electra).
Ian is so madly in love with Angela (Haley Atwell) that he pretends to be a big shot hotelier (with hotels in California).
Terry gets into deep trouble by gambling--he was on a big winning streak so joins in a super high stakes poker game. He loses & ends up owing 90,000 pounds. I think that comes out to around $180,000 US. So both brothers are desperate for money.
Their Uncle (played by Tom Wilkinson) is the "hero" of the family. Ian's & Terry's Mum (Clare Higgins) goes on & on about his successes, to the chagrin of the father. Talking of Electra!!! It's kind of like "Death of a Salesman" in this regard, with Willy Loman's brother the hero.
So it's a bit of a shock when the brothers find out that Uncle Howard is in deep trouble, he's done some shady deals (not fully described) & he also is desperate. The man who can testify & have him put into prison must be "done away with" and he happens to be in town right now (London).
At first, Terry is absolutely against it. He is the voice of reason. Cassandra. They will be doomed if they do that bad deed. "It's against God." But he loves his fianceé deeply & she wants to buy a little semi-detached house. He also must have money to get away from the loan sharks. Ian insists that they would likely break his legs or do worse, which terrifies Terry.
The brothers really do love each other. Many feverish, whispered conversations about should they do it, should they not. Sort of Hamlet in that sense.
Just by weird, Woody Allenesque chance, they meet the intended victim at wrap party for a show Angela was in. The look on Colin Farrell's/Terry's face is brilliant when he realizes the guy is coming up to chat with him.
It's a tragedy of errors from then onward. The music by Phillip Glass sets a moody backdrop as the brothers do the deed. Ian is able to let it go, water off a duck's back almost.
Terry is haunted, dreams of the dead man, has horrible nightmares, begins talking to himself, loses his job. His fianceé calls Ian, frantically worried about Terry's mental health. He truly is going mad.
Ian just wants to go to California with Angela. He tries to talk Terry into opening up a sports shop with the money Uncle Howard has given them in exchange for the killing. But Terry's soul is pierced. He shows up at a garden party, disheveled, drunk (another of his weaknesses), weeping & tells Ian he is turning himself in to the police. He says "we crossed a line. we went against God." Ian says "God? God? What God?!!" and looks over his shoulder as if God were listening in. I love that touch---is there a God & if so, is he right here, watching us?
Ian tells Uncle Howard about Terry's plan to confess to the police. Uncle Howard says they have to "take care of" Terry. Ian is in shock. Face full of doom.
But he does make arrangements to get rid of Terry. Goes to Terry's place, tells him they need some sea air, a get away, just the two of them, sailing in Cassandra's Dream. While Terry is telling his fianceé about the plans, Ian steals Terry's pills (codeine & something else, another of Terry's weaknesses). He crushes pills up & puts them into an evelope. Brings them onboard. Tries desperately to get Terry to change his mind about confessing the crime. When Terry is unchangeable, Ian goes below to put the pills into a beer. But he can't do it. He smashes the beer bottle, then angrily goes upside & confront Terry violently. They scuffle & Ian falls down the stairs, onto a hard table & dies.
Flash to cops talking about the two: "One killed the other or it was an accident, then the one killed himself" (or words to that effect).
Meanwhile, the girls are shopping merrily. Stunning contrast.