Film Review: Dreamland (2019)

STUDIO: Paramount | DIRECTOR: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte | CAST: Margot Robbie, Finn Cole, Travis Fimmel, Kerry Condon, Darby Camp, Garrett Hedlund, Lola Kirke
RELEASE DATE: Nov. 17, 2020
SPECS: R | 98 min. | Drama-thriller

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie 

Australia’s Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)  and England’s Finn Cole (Peaky Blinders) star in the Depression Era America drama-thriller Dreamland.

In the heart of Dust Bowl Texas, 1935, Eugene Evans (Cole) is a young man who dreams of escaping his family’s dried up farm and finding the father who abandoned him years ago. Until that day, he lives dutifully with his mother (Kerry Condon, Avengers: Infinity War), abusive police deputy stepfather (Travis Fimmel, Warcraft) and stepsister (Darby Camp, When We Last Spoke), who serves as the story’s narrator.

Margot Robbie and Finn Cole in Dreamland

When the town posts a large financial reward for the capture of outlaw bank robber Allison Wells (Robbie), who is also said to be responsible for the deaths of five people, Eugene sees his chance. A devoted fan of pulp detective magazines, he decides to track down the fugitive, collect the cash and save his family from ruin. But when Allison shows up in his barn looking like Margot Robbie, bloodied with a bullet in her leg and saying all the right things, you can’t blame Eugene for changing the plan and agreeing to help her flee to Mexico in return for twice as much as the town’s reward. Escaping with Eugene’s stepfather in pursuit, the two begin an unlikely and fateful romance.

Allison and Eugene are no Bonnie and Clyde, and their connection is empty of any real intensity. Even their one love scene comes off as awkward rather than passionate (and how our narrator is aware of such a moment is a bit of a mystery). Cole’s performance is rather bland–he just doesn’t bring enough kinetic energy to a character that should be a lot more excited to find himself smack dab in the middle of the kind of crime story he so loves to read about. The ultra-talented Robbie tries to work her magic, but the screenplay by Nicolaas Zwart (Riverdale) doesn’t give her all that much to juggle. She is appropriately seductive but there is no edge of danger or anxiety around her budding relationship with Eugene.

Though Dreamland offers some beautiful cinematography by Lyle Vincent (Bad Education) – you can practically feel the dirt and grime of the vast barren landscape – as well as exceptional sound editing and mixing, the overall film, directed by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte (As You Are), is too languidly paced to convey the real sense of urgency the story requires. There is simply no thrill to this chase.

Watch Dreamland

About Janine

Janine is a dedicated fan of the 1940 film Kitty Foyle, directed by Sam Wood, written by Dalton Trumbo and starring Ginger Rogers, who won an Oscar for her portrayal. And seeing that film is all it took to make her a lifelong movie lover. Janine is excited to add her insights to the great team at