Teenage Crime Spree

Director Miles Joris-Peyrafitte attempts to pull off an emotionally haunting Bonnie and Clyde tale in Dreamland with mixed success. Film star Margot Robbie plays a desperate bank robber on the lam that ropes a teenage boy into helping her. Cole Finn (Animal Kingdom) is her co-star, a teenage Clyde to her Bonnie.

Set during the Dust Bowl in Texas, those expecting a slick crime spree thriller should probably lower their expectations. Dreamland is a slow-burning period drama about the inner turmoil ripping apart a family. Mildly derivative, the R-rated film provides bits of violence and other adult situations taken from more gripping cinema. Crafted with some care, the movie is ultimately kind of empty.

Dreamland is a slow-burning period drama about the inner turmoil ripping apart a family

Bank robber Allison Wells (Margot Robbie) is a wounded fugitive on the run from the police when she first encounters Eugene (Cole Finn). Seductive and dangerous, Allison charms the naive teenager desperate to escape his small town. Eugene wants to find out what happened to his father who left for Mexico when he was five and never came back. Making matters more complicated is that Eugene’s stepfather is a deputy (Travis Fimmel) on the hunt for Allison.

Eugene is a dreamer and Allison picks up on his desperation right away. The screenplay operates in predictable, steady lurches that almost seems like a fait accompli. Margot Robbie and Cole Finn don’t have massive chemistry. I’m not sure it’s either one of their faults. The screenplay focuses more on inane flashbacks than convincing dialogue for the pair.

The direction and interesting cinematography help paper over the underwhelming screenplay’s limitations. The always reliable Travis Fimmel contributes a mannered, intense performance as the primary antagonist.

Dreamland is no Badlands or Bonnie and Clyde. It’s a coming-of-age tale that most will see for Margot Robbie, however the primary focus is on Finn’s dull teenage protagonist. Robbie is not particularly memorable in the role but certainly gives it her all, even taking her clothes off.

One of the movie’s producers, Robbie likely had high hopes for the period piece. Unfortunately, the predictable and lazy final act up-ends the good work laid down by the movie’s initial promise.

Video

Filmed with the ARRI ALEXA 65, no one can question Dreamland’s razor-sharp definition. The Dust Bowl-era period piece certainly goes after a yellow-tinted grading meant to evoke its era. Some texture was apparently added in during post-production as the digitally sterile cinematography looks almost too pristine for the setting. Dreamland’s well-toned 2.39:1 presentation oozes clarity and resolution, even if the digital grading’s flesh-tones suffer from the overall color palette’s mood.

Paramount provides a fantastic AVC encode at the highest bitrates. The main feature runs 101 minutes on a BD-50. Struck from the movie’s finished digital intermediate, the BD accurately reflects everything the director wanted. Paramount decided to pass on a UHD release, though demanding videophiles should know it’s available on streaming services at 4K.

Audio

Dreamland’s 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio provides adequate immersion with its capable surround mix. A couple pivotal scenes take advantage of the expansive soundstage, offering dramatic directional cues swirling around. The musical score is nicely integrated across the front soundstage with intelligible dialogue. Solid sound design and realistic separation help create the acoustic imaging that grounds Dreamland’s production. Gunshots and other sharper noises are felt on the low end.

Optional English, English SDH, and French subtitles play in a white font. The subtitles remain inside the 2.39:1 widescreen presentation. A secondary English Descriptive Audio track in 5.1 Dolby Digital is included.

Extras

Paramount includes no special features for Dreamland, not even a trailer. The Blu-ray does come with a digital copy that redeems in HDX quality on your choice of three different digital services: iTunes, VUDU, FandangoNow.

First pressings include a glossy slipcover.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Dreamland
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The period drama is for Margot Robbie lovers hoping she lights up the screen.

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