You're going to see a lot of bad reviews of Woody Allen's Cassandra's Dream, as I did before I went to see it. But having gone in with lowered expectations, I came out thrilled. I liked Cassandra's Dream a great deal. I went back and looked at some of the reviews, and I couldn't see how what they said related to the film. It seemed that most of the bad reviews were directed at Allen himself, his habits and ideas, or perhaps an expectation of Allen, or an expectation of the crime genre, rather than the film itself. This leads to a complex discussion of Allen's career, which goes much deeper than I'll ever have room for here. But suffice it to say that Allen has had a far more difficult time pleasing moviegoers than he did before he broke up with Mia Farrow and married Soon-Yi Previn.
I am a longtime fan, and in the past I have willingly put myself in the position of defending Allen's work even when there wasn't much to defend. I have written rave reviews only to revisit the films later and realize that I may have been wrong. But I believe he has tried harder, and tried more different kinds of things, in recent years than he did when he was younger and far more popular. I also believe that in the future, Allen's work, like Ozu's or Fassbinder's, may make up a far more coherent whole than it will a collection of individual masterpieces. That said, Cassandra's Dream is the third of Allen's British series. It ignores the previous entry, Scoop (2006), and harkens back to Match Point (2005), which most critics considered a successful comeback and a reinvigoration for Allen. It also revisits the themes that bubbled through Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), wondering not how one accomplishes a crime but how one deals with the concept of having accomplished a crime.