The depression-era drama Dreamland is more character study than gangster film. It's more like Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven (1978) than Arthur Penn's Bonnie & Clyde (1967). So, don't expect a wild shoot-'em-up.
Margot Robbie plays Allison Wells, a lady bank robber on the run. Teenager Eugene Evans (Finn Cole) helps Allison hide from the law and soon becomes smitten with her. After recuperating from a bullet wound in her leg, Allison asks Eugene to get her a car so that she can get to Mexico. Of course, Eugene wants to go with her.
Is she using him or falling for him? Or a little of both? We are not quite sure through most of the movie, thanks to Robbie's sly performance and a screenplay by Nicolaas Zwart that does take the occasional surprising turn. Cole is pretty intense and a good match for Robbie.
Cinematographer Lyle Vincent comes up with some very inventive shots. There is a shot in Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976) where Robert De Niro's character, on a pay phone, is being rejected by Cybill Shepherd's character. The camera pans away from De Niro and ends up looking down an empty hallway because his rejection is too painful to watch. The inverse of that shot is done during a hotel-room scene in Dreamland when the two main characters bond. The shot starts below Eugene's shoulders, not showing his face, then ends with both Eugene and Allison fully in the shot.
What hurts Miles Joris-Peyrafitte's film is occasional slack pacing and the inability to elevate the suspense in certain scenes. Still, it is a good film and does keep your attention.
Dreamland is streaming now.
*** Stars (Out of Four)
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