Dreamland: Film Review

Dreamland

Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote.

After impressing as Michael Gray in Peaky Blinders, British actor Finn Cole finally gets to prove his leading man chops by starring alongside Margot Robbie in Dreamland.

The film is set in a small Texas town in 1935. Local teenager Eugene Evans (Cole) decides to go on the hunt for wanted bank robber and suspected murderer Allison Wells (Robbie) to collect the handsome reward, but he doesn’t need to go very far – turns out the wounded Allison has been hiding out in his family’s barn. He becomes torn between helping and capturing the seductive fugitive.

Dreamland looks impressive, with stunning Depression-era landscapes set in the Dust Bowl, an area hit by a severe drought in the ’30s, but there’s not much going on under the surface. It had the potential to be much more, but the screenplay by Nicolaas Zwart is shallow and doesn’t amount to an awful lot. The film is narrated by Eugene’s younger sister Phoebe (Darby Camp) 20 years later (voiced by Lola Kirke) and it seemed like a cool idea at first but didn’t get used to great effect and ultimately felt rather unnecessary.

The movie is also described as a thriller but that doesn’t feel particularly accurate. It didn’t ever feel particularly exciting or thrilling. Not as much happened as I was expecting it to as the first half of the movie is spent with Eugene falling in love with Allison as she recuperates in the barn. More action comes in the second half but it’s fleeting – a glimpse of what we could have had – and the finale, which should have felt dramatic and poignant, made barely any impact at all.

Robbie, who also produces, is as captivating, alluring, and magnetic as always but as good as her performance is, she doesn’t steal the shine from Cole. She lets him lead and he does well as Eugene, particularly towards the end when he has more emotional heavy lifting. Individually they were strong, but I never once bought their romance; it was not remotely convincing, but that’s mostly down to the screenplay – the twists and turns of their love affair didn’t feel earned or ring true. I also didn’t understand why Garrett Hedlund signed up for such a small role – perhaps it was chopped down a lot in the edit?! That’s the only explanation.

It sounds like I hated Dreamland but I didn’t at all – it was a simple and easy enough watch and I enjoyed watching the two actors I like work with each other, but I’m frustrated because I wanted it to be better and it had the potential to do so.

In cinemas from Friday 11th December

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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