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In Dreams

Starring Annette Bening, Aidan Quinn, Stephen Rea and Robert Downey Jr.
Screenplay by Bruce Robinson and Neil Jordan
Based on the novel "Doll's Eyes" by Bari Wood
Directed by Neil Jordan
Website: www.asylum.com/movies/in_dreams/

IN SHORT: Cranky's Dreams don't make much sense either.

Once again, writer/director Neil Jordan delves thematically into fairy tales for a movie. He did it a decade ago with the story of Red Riding Hood in The Company of Wolves and this year it's Snow White in a failure of a flick called In Dreams, not a modernization of Snowie's tale, though apples and wicked females (sic) are all over this thing. Jordan has played with stories of insanity and horror before, most notably in last year's The Butcher Boy, but this time out you have to suffer through an hour of "what the hell is going on?" before everything starts to make as much sense as it is going to make.

God knows In Dreams does its best to hold your interest. We start with some lovely photography of an abandoned and submerged town. We meet a normal Massachusetts based family: airline pilot Paul Cooper (Aidan Quinn), his book illustrator wife Claire (Annette Bening) and their cute as a button daughter Rebecca (Katie Sagona). The marriage isn't apple pie perfect, the worm in the center is the possibility that Paul is keeping a piece on the side but he denies it. He's more concerned about the visions/ dreams that his wife has been having, of missing children and orchards and other very unpleasant events. It's not crystal, but apparently there is a local kidlet girl who has been missing for quite some time (thus the scuba search that opens the film) and there may or may not be a link.

Cranky thought we might be getting into a "psychic working for the police haunted by her visions" bit, but the local cops are as unaware of Claire's abilities as anybody else. There's a lovely staging of Snow White by the kidlets in Rebecca's school. Paul flies off to wherever-ville and Claire realizes in stark horror that the visions she's been having are not about the missing girl mentioned above. They're about her own daughter who vanishes into the woods after the play.

So far so good. Claire's visions get more gruesome as bodies are found. A housekeeper goes off to buy cigarettes and disappears for a day. The garbage disposal unit vomits apple parts. Paul comes home to find the house wrecked and his daughter's name painted on the walls (either in blood or paint, hell if I know). Claire is committed and in her insanity realizes that her dreams are being fed to her by another person! Gee, it reads better than it looks on screen.

The screenplay, by the director and Bruce Robinson, flails about, dropping bits and pieces of the lifestory of the man with whom Claire is "linked" (that would be Robert Downey Jr. as Vivian), involving the aforementioned submerged town, an abusive mother, mental institutions, and a couple of murders. Not to mention a dog locked in an abandoned hotel, another kidnaped child and Claire's long distance mind meld (she relives Viv's backstory via waking dreams) and encounter with the killer. In Dreams eventually comes together but, by the time it does, you won't care.

What attempts to be horrific scares only by shock. What attempts to be terrifying isn't. There's at least one vital sequence in the film whose continuity makes no sense, at least to me.  It feels like material was chopped out in the editing process. And Stephen Rea's appearance as Claire's shrink is distracting as his Massachusetts accent sounds forced (and more New Yawkish than anything else).

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to In Dreams, he would have paid...

$1.00

For the lovely underwater photography.  In Dreams nearly put me to sleep.

click to buy In Dreams vhs lbx dvd

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2016   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.