Cas & Dylan (2014)
Cast: Tatiana Maslany, Richard Dreyfuss, Jayne Eastwood
Director: Jason Preistley
Genre: Drama | Comedy
Like so many indie Canadian road movies before it, Cas & Dylan (2014) uses brevity and light-heartedness to illuminate a deeply bonding journey. Much of the film lacks weight, as serious themes and conditions are glossed over in favour of a more affable and comedic course of action. For the first hour or so, this tone makes little sense given the dramatic elements that have mostly been absconded, but when the time comes that the characters feel an intimate bond. After which they are able to dig beneath the surface of their previously superficial interactions. A great deal of latent energy, drama, and meaning comes flooding through the gates. Ultimately, the light-heartedness of the film’s narrative returns much depth in its denouement. The final moments of melancholy are thereby peppered with the memories of great contentment and ease.
Showing further signs of amateur filmmaking, Cas & Dylan is unfortunately replete with continuity errors
Cas & Dylan tells of an odd journey. A young, beautiful wannabe writer and a cynical, lonely old doctor somehow end up on a trip west, from Winnipeg to Vancouver Island. The contrast alone between old man and young woman is enough to confound the audience, and the tenuous connection which causes them to meet and later travel together is even more confounding. At first, it is a little frustrating and unbelievable, but ultimately the believability of the characters’ interactions is enough to ease these complaints. The film conveys how a strange journey across Canada can forge a bond between even the most opposite of individuals. It’s not simply about the travelling, of course, but how the characters meet each other during some kind of path in their life only to cause a detour. For Cas (Richard Dreyfuss), a path towards certain death is interrupted by a young girl’s free spiritedness. For Dylan (Tatiany Maslany), a path towards nothingness and nowhere is interrupted by an old man’s wisdom. The two of their lives become joined and inextricably linked together, for the moment and for the rest of time.
Beginning in media’s res, it is immediately apparent that the film is a road movie. From Winnipeg to Vancouver, shots of the road and the scenery fill the screen while bluegrass music hums a tune of travel. Knowing full well these two characters will be travelling together the next day, the viewer is shown how they come together. This part of the narrative is quite trivial, quite contrived, and continues for much of the first two-thirds of the film. An unexpected meeting and a bizarre accident which adds very little value to the film besides moving the plot forward is used as background for setting up the road trip. Cas’ urgency to head West and Dylan’s over-exerted enthusiasm to join him is nonsensical. By the end, one can disregard these features, as the character’s motivations change throughout the film, but it nevertheless shows signs of lazy scriptwriting.
Admittedly, the film uses dry, deadpan comedy rather than laugh-out-loud hilarity, but for a comedy, Cas & Dylan is certainly lacking
Besides the sometimes lazy scriptwriting, much of the humour is not actually funny. Admittedly, the film uses dry, deadpan comedy rather than laugh-out-loud hilarity, but for a comedy, Cas & Dylan is certainly lacking. While the actors are relatively comfortable in their roles, neither Maslany nor Dreyfuss have the charisma or presence to create onscreen comedy. There is little physical comedy, even less in the technical filmmaking, and the written jokes are average at best. Though there are a few good one-liners, the comedic aspect of this film is truly its light-hearted tone rather than its command of the genre.
Showing further signs of amateur filmmaking, Cas & Dylan is unfortunately replete with continuity errors, the kind which are not only apparent but cause a disruption in the film’s rhythm. On multiple occasions, I noted the kind of continuity errors one expects from either a parody or an extremely low-budget straight-to-dvd-movie. When Dylan eats pasta, her hand is constantly showing up in impossible places given the amount of time between cuts; a coffee cup disappears and reappears in her hands; and a man with a tremor places down a glass multiple times in what is supposed to be one instance. The editing at times is simply jarring, overdone, and full of errors.
Despite the fact that it is a relatively sloppy independent film, Cas & Dylan has much to be admired. For one, the earnestness of its themes and its sincerity of spirit is not to be overlooked. While the film is not aesthetically affluent nor narratively taut, the heartfelt symbolism of its final moments in addition to its emotional resonance are enough to make Cas & Dylan a very watchable and even likeable film, despite its many flaws.
While the film is not aesthetically affluent nor narratively taut, the heartfelt symbolism of its final moments in addition to its emotional resonance are enough to make Cas & Dylan a very watchable and even likeable film, despite its many flaws.