January 23, 2017
Showings 4:30, 7:00 and 9:10pm
Rated: 14A | Drama | 108 minutes
Following the success of his award-winning debut Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster, Nathan Morlando returns true with the noir-tinged “Northern Gothic” romance Mean Dreams. An Official Selection at Cannes and TIFF, Morlando’s tale of young love forged through adversity is expertly brought to life by outstanding performances from its up-and-coming and seasoned cast, and confirms his place as one of Canada’s most promising filmmakers.
When Casey Caraway (Sophie Nélisse, Endorphine, Monsieur Lazhar) moves in down the road from Jonas Ford’s (Josh Wiggins, Hellion) isolated family farm, the two hit it off immediately. While Jonas’ new friendship with Casey provides an escape from his bleak life at home with his overbearing father and chronically depressive mother, her home life is quickly revealed to be just as troubled, as she lives under the watchful eye of her abusive and corrupt sheriff father, Wayne (Bill Paxton, Nightcrawler, Haywire). Bound together by their respectively bleak situations, Jonas and Casey quickly develop a deep and protective relationship despite the disapproval of their parents, who each see the other child as disruptive to their family’s status quo.
Jonas is eventually beaten while defending Casey during one of Wayne’s drunken outbursts, but the town police chief (Colm Feore, Bon Cop, Bad Cop; Elephant Song) is reluctant to intervene in domestic affairs with his new deputy. After witnessing one of Wayne’s drug deals, Jonas impulsively steals the cash and escapes with Casey into the surrounding wilderness — but Wayne and the chief are not far behind, and are hell-bent on revenge and their money.
At equal turns tender and bleak, Mean Dreams presents a striking backwoods drama centred on the poetic depiction of young love that emerges amidst desperate and dangerous circumstances.
Morlando draws great performances out of his two young leads, Quebec’s Nélisse and America’s Wiggins, who are like fugitives out of a French New Wave film, discovering love while also hatching a plan on the run.
—Peter Howell, Toronto Star