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IN DREAMS

SYNOPSIS:
Claire Cooper (Annette Bening) is a children's book illustrator who dreams of shocking events, even when she's awake. Her local community is under threat from a rampant serial killer of children (Robert Downey Jr.). Claire believes her visions relate to the atrocities he has committed. When her own daughter disappears, she realises he is feeding her images, not of what he has done, but what he is about to do. Convinced that she is psychotic, nobody takes her warnings seriously. Thus she is forced to take him into her mind completely, and face the full horror of him, alone.

"Complex, dark and disturbing, In Dreams combines the metaphysical world of the tortured mind with the hypnotic allure of a lost town whose inhabitants and all their secrets have been drowned in a watery grave. Neil Jordan's passion and intensity resounds in this claustrophobic tale that combines shades of Don't Look Now with glimpses of John Fowles' The Collector. Themes of water and drowning – both in a physical and mental sense – are consistent throughout; the result is a haunting journey that impresses by its fervour and shocks by its depravity. The mental anguish and torment of being unwillingly used as a receptacle for the disturbed mind of a psychopath is an intriguing and compelling experience. We encounter rational, irrational, sane, insane, real and imaginary. With complex, provocative dream sequences, In Dreams is a wild ride both mentally and physically. It is a disturbing film delving into a sharp level of consciousness, its enticing imagery exploding with dramatic tension. A carefully selected, sterling cast propels this film into a realm of artistic merit. Annette Bening is superb as Claire, the tortured soul, whose obsession becomes possession. Bening is naturally drawn to strong characters and this role showcases the actress' diversity, her unselfconsciousness and sheer dramatic prowess. She manages to convey her own character's incredulity of the events, with disarming truth. Robert Downey Jnr exhibits a riveting edginess as Vivian, a highly deranged individual whose torment is transferred to Claire. He is a great performer whose screen presence is mesmerising. The production design is moody, the score eclectic, the settings beautiful. Vividly haunting, with images that will linger, In Dreams is a gripping, intense drama that will take you on a trip far beyond your wildest dreams."
Louise Keller

"Talented Irish director Neil Jordan’s cinematic skill is to probe beneath the actions and into the stuff that makes his characters tick, either overtly or often by nuance and suggestion. (See at left for a brief filmography.) With the psychological thriller, In Dreams, Jordan tackles material that is too often thrown away as a device on tv and even on the big screen. He doesn’t. Tackling such a touchy area as thought/dream transference with mental disturbance seriously, Jordan brings out the best in his cast, who lead us deeper and deeper into a horrifying ordeal that cannot have a happy ending. (Although there is a touch of serenity before the final, awful payoff.) Based on a novel – but so well adapted you’d hardly notice – In Dreams looks, sounds and feels every inch the drama that the novel might induce in the reader; here, Jordan provides the pictures for us. One of the film’s many achievements is its ‘look’ – a seamless and inspired combination of cinematography, location work and production design. In all respects, In Dreams is superbly crafted and powered by stunning performances – but be warned, it is often confronting."
Andrew L. Urban

"Here is a film that has plenty to recommend it, yet ultimately leaves us feeling let down. Unsatisfied. That is, the whole is less than the sum of its parts. Annette Bening gives the performance of her career as Claire Cooper. It is a role that a lesser actress would have easily pushed into melodrama. Yet, when all around her is so seriously unbelievable, Bening is able to maintain absolute integrity as she plays the full gamut from despair, through fear and apparent madness, to utter determination. Her tour de force is strongly supported by the performance of Robert Downey Jr. in the smaller but equally important role of the child-like but relentless madman, Vivian Thompson. Another major highlight is the remarkably evocative photography of Darius Khondji. His work, when combined with the excellent score of Elliot Goldenthal, provides the film with its disturbing edge. But it is only an edge when it really should be the whole package. Director Neil Jordan and co-writer Bruce Robinson have delivered a myriad of strong images and intricate plot twists but have finally fallen down on the most important element of all: believability. OK, so we can suspend disbelief enough to go with the premise that Vivian can feed Claire's mind. We're along for the ride. But there is no consistency in that premise. There are too many plot devices which ask us to again alter our view of the world they have created. It really is a case where less would have been more. Jordan should have trusted his original premise and the fine work done by his outstanding actors."
Lee Gough

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

TRAILER

Neil Jordan – partial filmography:
Angel
Mona Lisa
The Company of Wolves
The Crying Game
Interview With The Vampire
Michael Collins
The Butcher Boy

__________________

IN DREAMS (M15+)
(US)

CAST: Annette Bening, Aidan Quinn, Stephen Rea, Robert Downey Jr, Katie Sagona, Paul Guilfoyle

DIRECTOR: Neil Jordan

PRODUCER: Stephen Woolley

SCRIPT: Bruce Robinson (based on the novel 'Doll's Eyes' by Bari Wood)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Darius Khondji A.F.C.

EDITOR: Tony Lawson A.C.E.

MUSIC: Elliott Goldenthal

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nigel Phelps

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 12, 1999

VIDEO RELEASE: May 31, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures Video







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