Eugene Evans lives in a small Texan town that’s been wrecked by the dustbowl. With no land to till and no money, he’s got nothing else to do but live vicariously through characters in pulpy comics and wonder about his alcoholic father who abandoned him as a child.
Meanwhile, the rest of the town is focused on a bank robber with a hefty bounty on her head. Fortunately for Eugene, he didn’t need to look that far as he finds Allison Wells in their family’s abandoned barn.
Things, unfortunately, don’t get any better for Eugene and the audience. Margot Robbie’s tears can’t bring this movie to life and remain as dry as its arid Depression-era backdrop.
“It’s just like one of these books, except I’m the man in the hat”, Allison says by way of introduction after seeing his comics. Eugene is pulled in.
These characters don’t have any believable drive or motivation so there’s no good reason to invest in their journey.
The supporting cast is poorly drawn too. The movie tries to paint George Evans (Travis Fimmel) as a boorish replacement for Eugene’s father, but you just feel sorry for the guy in having a mopey stepson yearning for an alcoholic deadbeat.
It’s child’s play for Allison Wells to convince him to help her escape. Margot Robbie steals the spotlight and managed to rise above the weak script through sheer star power and solid performance while the rest didn’t stand a chance.
Unfortunately, this attempt at Bonnie and Clyde is too little too late.
There is something here about unreliable narrators, legends, and the great escape. There’s otherworldly loneliness of living in a desolate landscape thanks to Malick-esque sprawling cinematography.
But there are no gripping twists and turns in this thriller. No big lessons to learn in this small-town story. No characters to root for in this fugitive drama.
Actors can carry a movie on their backs, but even talent has its limits.
Dreamland proves that Margot Robbie can carry a movie with her star power, but even her talents can't save this pretentious bore.