In Dreams
directed by Neil Jordan
(Dreamworks, 1999)

In Dreams is a thriller made by a master. This is a movie to be watched more than listened to. Let the visuals have their way with you and you are going to have an exciting, nail-biting two hours capped with a perfect-fit ending.

If you look for meaning, logical connections and perfect continuity, don't bother. It's not going to work for you. It's not that kind of movie. This is not Silence of the Lambs or Se7en. It's more like Nicholas Roeg's twisted little masterpiece, Don't Look Now. In fact, I recommend that movie to anyone (the few, the proud, the brave) who can see what a terrific movie In Dreams is.

Annette Bening, who is in 90 percent of In Dreams, turns in a bravura performance (if you're reading this, Annette, give us a kiss, you ravishing hunk of woman. Speaking of dreams ... well, uh, let's not go there. Let's just say I've about worn out my copy of The Grifters).

The story is simple. Bening plays a mom being driven mad by dreams put in her head by the sicko who killed her daughter. These dreams are of events in the past, things happening now and things that haven't happened yet.

A lot of the movie is Bening having nervous breakdowns, each one worse than the one before. The apple-throwing sequence is brilliantly acted and shot. Incredible tension. Major props, also, to the big car and truck crash scene. Director Neil Jordan puts you right there.

Aidan Quinn, as her husband, doesn't have much to do but act baffled, but he's good at that. Stephen Rea, as the psychiatrist, performs the same role as the psychiatrist at the end of Psycho, tying together events from years past to what's going on now. Robert Downey Jr. plays the nutcase very well.

This movie looks gorgeous -- small-town Massachusetts in the fall. Vivid colors you could eat with a spoon. The scene with the little boy atop the church steeple poking out of the lake is really eerie.

Again, the visuals in this movie are extraordinary. In Dreams is not about something that could actually happen to real people. It's a wonderfully made adult horror movie that, compared to other horror movies, is actually restrained. Check it out.

By the way, the trailer of this movie, which I watched on the DVD, is just awful. It looks like a completely different movie, and a bad one, at that.

review by
Dave Sturm

2 January 2009

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