Cassandra's Dream (12A)

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The Independent Culture

Dear God. Even by Woody Allen's recent standards (Match Point), this latest is quite stupefyingly terrible, and it can only be on the strength of former glories that he has secured his stellar cast. Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell play a pair of London-born brothers deep in trouble; the former a restaurant manager who's wooing a hot young actress (Hayley Atwell) with stories of nonexistent contacts in Los Angeles, the latter a garage mechanic who's got into serious debt through gambling.

When they appeal to their rich uncle Howard (Tom Wilkinson) for help, he agrees on condition that they "take care" of a business associate who's about to testify against him in a fraud case. But can the brothers handle murder? More pertinently, can you handle dialogue as inept as this? "It's been a day of shattered hopes for you, me and Howard." (McGregor actually has to say that line.)

If this had been about two blue-collar brothers in New Jersey, Allen might just have got away with it. In London, where Allen has no feel for social texture, it looks awkward, and it sounds absurd. Wilkinson gives a career-worst performance – he doesn't appear to know his lines – while Farrell and McGregor look understandably stressed by having to conduct the same argument over and over. It makes Sidney Lumet's recent Before the Devil Knows You're Dead – another story of fraternal crime and punishment – look even more accomplished than it is.

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