DVD Movie Review: Sweet Dreams

By Thom Compton 16.04.2018

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Sweet Dreams (UK Rating: 12)

Losing a parent is something a lot of people are afraid of. Losing a parent as a child is even more daunting, as children don't have the knowledge to overcome the loss, let alone process it. Sweet Dreams - out on DVD now via Thunderbird Releasing - makes an effort to show how that loss can follow a man through life, but all it really manages to accomplish is a myriad of irrelevant scenes mixed into a rushed conclusion. For a film running over two hours, that's pretty impressive.

Massimo is a young boy when his mother, who also doubles as his best friend, is taken from him. As a young boy, he is barely able to grasp the concept of what has happened, and he most certainly can't accept it. He spends the entire viewing announcing to everyone that his mother isn't dead and he wants to see her. It's a decent mixture of heartbreaking melodrama and inadvertently creepy child acting.

Massimo eventually grows up, as humans often do, and thanks to one brilliant day with his father, becomes a sports journalist. He briefly teeters in war journalism and things like that, eventually being more of a journalist than the simple title of sports journalist. None of this really matters, and despite a late game twist in his work life, it doesn't do much, if anything, to really frame Massimo as a person.

You see, Massimo is a blank slate, for almost the entire film. As a child, his behaviour seems obnoxious, even given the context of what has happened to him. He's not just rebelling; he's being an outright menace. As an adult, however, he could just as easily have been portrayed by a mannequin. This isn't to say the actor's performance is bad; it's to say the character is just boring. His only distinguishing feature is he keeps his feelings bottled up, and that's hardly interesting enough to carry him through a two-hour-plus film.


 
On top of this, most of the other characters are dull as dishwater. The worst offender is Massimo's father, a man who carries one basic facial expression, and that's "awake, but tired." The only even remotely likeable characters are a friend of young Massimo's mother, brilliantly portrayed by Emmanuelle Davos, and Elisa, the "one who can save him."

Elisa is criminally underused in this film. While she spends most of her time giggling, it's a great juxtaposition to the lifeless stare most of the other cast members have. She's also funny and endearing, and sadly only gets enough screen time so you notice she isn't getting enough. She's also a component of the film's biggest issue, which is that things just happen.

Character arcs are important. Character has a fault, something forces them to overcome it, then character no longer has that fault. It's fine if a movie wants to try different things with that character arc, but it's frustrating and a little insulting when that character arc occurs without the viewer's knowledge. Such is the case here. Most of the film is Massimo doing things, remembering weird details about his mum or her death, flashbacks to those details, and then moving on. When the resolution to him not dealing with his grief, then, is resolved not only quickly, but without any work on his part, it's annoying. When he finds love without really trying too hard, it's annoying. Even worse, the few things that do seem to be twists in Massimo's story aren't even the least bit surprising, resulting in a movie that's so dull and unexcited about its own story, it might as well have been a note written on a napkin. "Massimo's mum died. Shh, don't bring it up!" Done.

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Despite all of the negativity, Sweet Dreams is at least well shot. It's not a bad film in the sense that it's awful, it's a bad film in a sense that it's trying to be a good film. It's sticking its nose up and smirking, donning its cape and wondering how lucky you must be to be watching it. Sadly, it's not as good as it thinks it is, instead being a movie about a rather bland topic, and one that settles for being bland a vast majority of the time. When it works, it works well, but for the most part, it never really does.

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