Agnes Bruckner and Kelli Garner star in Dreamland.
Stars: Kelli Gardner, Agnes Bruckner
Director: Jason Matzner
*** (out of five)
This is what happens in the Dreamland trailer park, somewhere in New Mexico: A new family arrives on the scene; two best friends fall for the same guy; a past tragedy colours the lives of the people left behind; there’s a disease, and a fateful accident; and there is redemption.
The video store shelves are filled with movies like this, told with similarly lovely cinematography and a similarly tinkly score. And, like most of those movies, Dreamland was a modest hit at Sundance.
Still, that doesn’t mean Dreamland doesn’t do what it does very well. The director, Jason Matzner, gets terrific work from every one of his actors — from Kelli Garner and Blue Car’s Agnes Bruckner as the improbably hot but believably co-dependent friends at the centre of the romantic triangle; from Justin Long as the guy who, somewhat apologetically, comes between them; from Gina Gershon and Chris Mulkey as Long’s ex-rocker parents, and from John Corbett, in full Jeff Bridges mode, as Bruckner’s agoraphobic, drunken father.
Tom Willett’s screenplay doesn’t necessarily give them anything original or surprising to do — once everything’s lined up, things unfold precisely as they have in every other muted indie drama of this stripe — but they go through the motions with a surprising level of depth and intelligence. And that’s enough to hold your attention, enough to get you to care. Dreamland isn’t a breakthrough or anything, but as these things go, it’s all right.