Director: Nathan Morlando
Cast: Bill Paxton, Sophie Nélisse, Josh Wiggins, Colm Feore
Runtime: 1 hr 45 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Coarse Language)
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 13 April 2017
Synopsis: Mean Dreams is a crime thriller about a fifteen-year-old boy who steals a bag of drug money and runs away with the girl he loves while her corrupt cop father hunts them down.
Mean, abusive and often menacing, the late Bill Paxton puts in a solid performance in one of his final onscreen performances before his untimely death in February this year. This made in Canada crime drama stars Paxton as a corrupted cop and even though he is not the leading man right here, he easily stole the limelight from his younger co-stars.
Teenager Casey Caraway (Sophie Nelisse from The Book Thief) has just moved into the rural country with his police dad, Wayne (Paxton). Her neighbor happens to be a teenage farm boy, Jonas (Josh Wiggins) who works on his father’s cattle ranch. Before long, their friendship turns into puppy love to the dismay of Wayne.
On one fateful night, Jonas accidentally finds himself trapped inside the back of Wayne’s truck. Noticing there’s a huge bag of money there, Jonas decides to take it and run off with Casey hoping to escape their mundane and abusive lives.
Despite containing a coming-of-age theme, Mean Dreams eschews the romance of The Fault In Our Stars and the innocence of Moonrise Kingdom. The indie title attempts to stand on its own however the writing by Kevin Coughlin and Ryan Grassby doesn’t live up to all the promised setup. Part teen romance and part crime drama. These two elements simply don’t go hand in hand in this indie directed by Nathan Morlando.
Most of the running time is spent on the two young lovers who are on the run from Wayne and his equally corrupted partner played by Colm Feore (House of Cards). The interactions between the young stars are subtle and beautiful composed, nothing sexual. There are two brief thrilling chase scenes inserted in-between not to mention an unsatisfying conclusion to all the brouhaha. But all sorts of questions linger on as we wonder about the fate of the young lovers and why Wayne Caraway is such an A-hole in the first place.
The entire affair works all because of Nelisse and Wiggins’ remarkable chemistry. Remember they are in almost every scene and shot for this 105 minutes movie. Paxton on the other hand basically disappears midway till the finale which is of course a pity consider his character’s motive and action is far more interesting than watching two young runaways dashing from one place to another without much of a plan.
Mean Dreams was first shown at the Directors' Fortnight in Cannes last year and several Canadian film festivals before arriving in theaters for general screening. It’s purely arthouse delight and not forgetting the gorgeous cinematography by Steve Cosens. It’s not a complicated movie to follow however those looking for more commercialized teen romance stuff should look elsewhere.
(Years down the road you will not remember Mean Dreams but you will remember the presence of the late Bill Paxton)
Review by Linus Tee