Starring: Finn Cole, Margot Robbie, Travis Fimmel
Director: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte
Running Time: 98 mins
Dreamland is an American film about a young man living in rural Texas who discovers a well-known fugitive hiding in his family’s barn, but instead of reporting her and collecting a $10,000 bounty, he grows closer to her as he dreams of the excitement of an outlaw’s life.
A film that yearns to capture the same thrill as legendary outlaw picture Bonnie And Clyde, Dreamland is a film with all the nostalgia for life outside the law, but little of the charisma and thrill that makes that lifestyle so appealing. Despite two decent lead performances, Dreamland is far from an enthralling watch, only really making use of its premise too late in the day.
However, let’s start with the positives. Although Dreamland is an undoubtedly flawed film, its nostalgia and passion for the bygone era of the aftermath of the Wild West is both genuine and thoroughly entertaining.
With its lead character, played by Finn Cole, a wide-eyed, innocent lover of the world of outlaws and bank robbers, Dreamland is fully aware of its own nostalgia and the inevitable realities of the world it idolises, effectively balancing an idealistic and realistic view of life outside the law.
Another plus comes in the form of the two lead performances. Although neither Finn Cole nor Margot Robbie is on top form, the pair work really well together, and the imbalanced dynamic between them – as Cole’s character feels an unrequited love for Robbie’s – is more than convincing.
In a film that admittedly lacks engrossing dramatic and emotional depth, that dynamic is the most interesting part of the story, coming to a head in the film’s impressively enthralling final act, although it’s fair to say that it all comes a little too late.
For the majority of the film’s first two acts, we follow a fairly disjointed story where the only real highlights are the regular but unfortunately brief interactions between Cole and Robbie. The film tries to build a clear picture of the rural community in which the story takes place, but that’s something which is achieved very quickly, and much of its later exposition proves both dull and unnecessary.
The development of the relationship between Cole and Robbie is engaging, but we spend too little time with them together, with the film instead unsuccessfully fleshing out a collection of forgettable secondary characters that add little to the story’s emotional resonance.
It’s not until the final act, when we finally see Cole and Robbie together in a Bonnie And Clyde-style adventure, that things really improve, and although I thoroughly enjoyed this movie’s finale, it was such a shame that we didn’t see more of this part of the story earlier on.
Overall, I found Dreamland to be a real mixed bag. Largely disappointing for the majority of its runtime, the movie is unable to make use of an engaging story that harks back to the glory of outlaws, and despite decent performances and a strong dynamic between its two main characters, the film’s strongest moments come along just a bit too late. So, that’s why I’m giving Dreamland a 6.9.