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TIFF Review: Mean Dreams

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mean dreams 2

Two teenagers are pursued by a corrupt police officer who wants his drug money and daughter returned to him.

A teenager releases some snakes into the forest where he encounters a wayward dog and its female owner who is newly arrived in town and around his same age.  The blooming romance is threatened by a drunken and volatile police officer who happens to be the father of the girl.  The situation escalates when the boy unwittingly uncovers the criminal activities of the local authorities which results in him and his girlfriend going on the run with the illegal proceeds.

A wilderness transformed into surreal colours abruptly broken reality serves as an intriguing opening.  The manner in which Jonas Ford (Josh Wiggins) and Casey Caraway (Sophie Nélisse) meet each other is as natural as the scenery.  A montage quickly establishes the growing attraction between the two teenagers.    There are no fancy camera moves as the focus is squarely on capturing the performances of the cast which is kept to a minimum.  A nice suspenseful touch is how Jonas unwittingly witnesses a crime scene.

The believable on-screen chemistry between Josh Wiggins and Sophie Nélisse places the movie upon a firm foundation.  It is hard for any actor to play a violent alcoholic without the part becoming a cliché.  Bill Paxton certainly is able to convey a menacing persona; however, it comes across as being somewhat over-the-top.   However, the versatile Colm Feore is able in his smaller part to be nasty but in a convincing manner.   The father of Jonas is treated as plot footnote which is a wasted opportunity.  To the credit of filmmaker Nathan Morlando there are no sex scenes between Jonas and Casey enabling the story to keep on moving forward.

3-out-of-5

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Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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