Mean Dreams is a 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. This coming-of-age fable brings together the desperation of life on the run and the beauty and wonder of first love.
Mean Dreams is a nifty neo-noir set in Canada. Northern Ontario near Sault Ste. Marie to be more precise. The film centers around Casey and Jonas, two lovers on the lam from Casey's abusive cop father played brilliantly by the late Bill Paxton in his last role before his untimely death. The film invoked memories for me of Nicholas Ray's "They Live by Night" 1948 and Robert Altman's remake of the film called "Thieves Like Us" 1974. But the film may be closest to Terrance Malick's "Badlands" 1973 where Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen were the two lovers on the lam after murdering Sissy's abusive father played by Warren Oates. But comparisons can continue as it allowed me to recall the quirky "Moonrise Kingdom" directed by Wes Anderson.
Lovers on the lam is old theme most famously portrayed by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the ill fated lovers "Bonnie and Clyde" 1967. Both Casey and Jonas, played by Sophie Nelisse and Josh Wiggins, both of whom we are liable to see more of, are good in this film. Starting out as young and naive they quickly have to grow up as Jonas gets caught up in a drug deal gone wrong that was set up by Casey's father. Indeed how do you go to the police when it is the police that are bad guys. Colm Feore plays the other bad cop. You just know that none of this going to end well even if the lovers are somehow seen as getting away in the end.
The film is well-acted. It develops slowly and builds. We get to like Casey and Jonas and do really hope they escape the abusive father (Paxton). It's an indie neo-noir film worthy of being amongst the many neo-noirs that come out over the years. One of the biggest stars in the film is the landscape of Northern Ontario from the lakes, the fields and yes the small towns that prevail up there. Seeing the gorgeous landscape made me want to take a trip back.
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