Described as “a coming-of-age drama that evolves into a crime thriller”, the film begins with teenagers Jonas and Casey meeting, introduced by Casey’s faithful dog Blaise. Jonas spends his days working on his father’s cattle ranch in the Great Lakes region of North America; Casey and her father Wayne, a police sergeant, are the new neighbors. Wayne tries to quell the romance blossoming between Casey and Jonas.
When Jonas sees Wayne hit Casey, Jonas and Wayne get into fight and Wayne threatens Jonas’s life. Later, Jonas sees Wayne steal a large sum of money; Jonas takes the money from Wayne and he and Casey go on the lam, living outdoors and trying to stay one step ahead of Wayne and the authorities.
Film Review for Mean Dreams
Mean Dreams is a coming-of-age drama that evolves into a crime thriller. There’s too much going on here, and the story eventually falls apart under its own weight, but there’s still a lot to like about this engaging film.
Josh Wiggins and Sophie Nelisse star as Jonas and Casey, adolescent neighbours in some godforsaken farmland corner of the world. Jonas is a hardworking farmer’s son, a kid who dropped out of school to help his father work on the family 40; Casey is a newcomer to the area and her father (Bill Paxton) is a cop.
Jonas and Casey are both 15. What they also have in common are emotionally unreliable parents, so both teens are somewhat isolated. Fending for oneself has made Casey guarded, but it’s made Jonas self-reliant and brave.
Their personalities, their innocence and their fledgling romance are carefully developed before the story shifts gears and moves into thriller territory.
Casey’s father is an abusive drunk and a crooked cop. As Jonas discovers, there are even worse things going on, and he intends to rescue Casey. He and she go on the run with a bag of stolen cash, but they don’t get too far before the corrupt adults in their world are after them. Now we’re in chase territory, with guns and whatnot. No grown-up, including the local sheriff (Colm Feore), seems trustworthy. And no happy ending seems possible.
Mean Dreams is the second film from director Nathan Morlando, whose debut feature was the underrated drama, Citizen Gangster. Both films have the great benefit of cinematographer Steve Cosens; Mean Dreams can also boast terrific performances from the young leads, and Josh Wiggins is especially impressive.
His and Sophie Nelisse’s performances will keep you interested in what happens, despite the unlikely plot twists that undermine the storytelling.
Directed by: Nathan Morlando
Starring: Sophie Nélisse, Josh Wiggins, Bill Paxton, Colm Feore, Ryan Blakely, Joe Cobden, Tara Nicodemo, Vickie Papavs
Screenplay by: Kevin Coughlin, Ryan Grassby
Production Design by: Zosia Mackenzie
Cinematography by: Steve Cosens
Film Editing by: Sandy Pereira, Ronald Sanders
Costume Design by: Marissa Schwartz
Set Decoration by: John O’Regan
Music by: Son Lux
MPAA Rating: R for some violence and language.
Distributed by: Elevation Pictures (Canada), Mister Smith Entertainment (International)
Release Date: March 17, 2017