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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

American Dream 2021 * * * Stars


"Everyday I don't have my money, add on 20%". Jeez-o-Pete. That interest sounds rather dicey to me. Everyday I decide not to write a review, I cave. I feel 20% bored.

So yeah, I liked American Dream but its ending left me a little tongue-tipped, a little falsely prospected, and edgy. I didn't know how to interpret it and I salivated for about five more minutes of pledged screen time. 

American Dream's story feeling like an LA Lifetime movie gone rogue, goes like this: Two earnest construction workers who want to be property owners, decide to make money off a guaranteed, lucrative project. They go to a Russian Mob worker for a loan and when said loan doesn't work out, chaos and stalker threat ensues. 

With a low budget feel, a minimal cast, a scorched Los Angeles setting, Coinstar remnants, and some curt bloodletting, "Dream" is a nasty thriller that's mysteriously billed as a portioned drama. Uh huh. I didn't know dramas had sawed-off body parts, attempted hangings, attempted rapes, and knuckled crushing-s. 

What the heck. American Dream is dark, dangerous, fringed, and effectively unsafe. This is all despite some choppy editing, a certain callowness, and an LAPD that could care less about what's going on. 

Nick Stahl co-stars in "Dream" as Russki mobster and pseudo apologetic businessman, Yuri (that's a familiar black hat name). Fresh from rehab, absent from the acting scene, and getting his Bully on twenty years later, the slick-haired Stahl plays a scumbag ruffian like nobody's business.   

All in all, if you want to start 2021 off with a punch to the gut and some labored breathing, then American Dream will sock it to you Houdini-style. Janusz Kaminski's deft direction, Duncan Brantley's lurid script, and Robert Foster's numbing score here make this compact, B-movie trope recommendable. Teamwork makes the "dream" work. 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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