Two teens in a small rural community seek solace from their dark pasts and troubled home lives in a forbidden romance, in the powerful new film from Canadian director Nathan Morlando (Edwin Boyd – Citizen Gangster).
With Edwin Boyd – Citizen Gangster, winner of the Best Canadian First Feature prize at the Festival in 2011, Nathan Morlando established himself as a director to watch. With his second feature, Mean Dreams, he more than delivers on that promise, crafting an emotionally powerful film about two young lovers on the run. The life of teenaged Jonas Ford (Josh Wiggins) is dominated by his father's struggle to keep the family farm afloat and his mother's ongoing battle with severe depression. When Casey Caraway (2016 TIFF Rising Star Sophie Nélisse, first seen in Philippe Falardeau's Monsieur Lazhar) moves in a few miles down the road, the two click immediately. But while most parents would be happy to see their children find this kind of relationship, Jonas' father sees Casey as someone who distracts Jonas from his duties, while Casey's father, Wayne (Bill Paxton), an alcoholic prone to explosive and sometimes violent outbursts, sees Jonas as competition. Making things worse is the fact that Wayne is the town's new deputy, and the sheriff considers domestic abuse to be a household matter. With nowhere to turn, the young lovers are soon faced with an impossible decision.
Atmospherically shot by Steve Cosens, one of Canada's finest cinematographers, Mean Dreams percolates with a sense of both promise and dread, the sky above the lovers' heads signifying limitless possibility while serving as a grim reminder of their seemingly inescapable pasts.
Drawing fine performances from the veteran Paxton and, especially, his young leads Wiggins and Nélisse, Morlando creates a sensitive portrait of the dilemmas facing young people trapped by circumstance and history.