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Blu-ray Review: Dreamland

January 19, 2021

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Eugene Evans (Finn Cole) is a teenager in 1935, who lives on a Texas farm in a dustbowl town that has been hit hard by the Great Depression and never recovered. He finds his escape through stories of outlaws on the run from the law, fuelling his dream to live a life of adventure.

The boy gets his chance when he discovers Allison Wells (Margot Robbie), a bank robber with a bounty on her head following a botched job that left several people dead, hiding in his family’s barn with an injured leg. As Eugene starts to develop feelings for the fugitive young woman, he is torn between turning her in and accepting the cash reward for her capture, or helping her escape to Mexico.

Directed with a sure hand by young filmmaker Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, Dreamland is crafted with a clear nostalgia for its time period and the old genre films that were born out of it. Working from a nicely textured script by Nicolaas Zwart, who finds some fresh nuances in the otherwise well-worn story that he is telling, Joris-Peyrafitte has made something that feels like a sort of gender-swapped Bonnie and Clyde, and serves as a fitting homage to that classic picture.

At the heart of the film is Robbie, who does a very good job of adding depth to a character who could have felt like a one-note creation. Allison is leveraging her sensuality and taking advantage of Eugene’s naïveté in order to survive, and Robbie is smart for not trying to turn her into a simplistic anti-hero or even a completely sympathetic character. But she still allows fear and vulnerability to peek through at key moments, giving her portrayal an understated complexity, especially when she starts to reciprocate Eugene’s feelings towards her.

This is also very much a coming of age story, and Cole does a fine job of showing Eugene’s childlike innocence slipping away as he goes through a series of life experiences that force him to become more hardened. The cast is rounded out by Kerry Condon as Eugene’s mother; Travis Fimmel as his tough stepfather, a local law enforcement officer who is leading the charge in the search for Allison Wells; and Darby Camp as his precocious younger half-sister Phoebe, whose character narrates the film as an adult (voice of Lola Kirke).

Finally, the film features some lovely Magic Hour cinematography by Lyle Vincent, as well as a good piano and strings score by Patrick Higgins, which adds to the overall nostalgic mood of the piece and feels authentic to the time period. While the plot itself isn’t terribly original and covers some well-worn territory, Dreamland is a well acted and beautifully shot piece of throwback entertainment that does a good job of keeping us engaged in its story while also gently tugging at our heartstrings.

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

The Blu-ray includes no bonus features. A code for a digital copy is included in the package.

Dreamland is a Paramount Home Entertainment release. It’s 100 minutes and rated 14A.

Street Date: January 19th, 2021

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