Kamloops Film Festival in review: Mean Dreams

Each year, The Omega reviews the films presented at the Kamloops Film Festival. The festival came to a close on March 11.

Mean Dreams is not a just simple teenage movie that portrays screen chemistry or a luminous first love story. Instead, it is a thriller with compelling elements of courage, compassion, first love, help, making life-altering choices and survival.

When Casey (Sophie Nelisse) moves in with her father (the late Bill Paxton), a local police officer, their neighbour Jonas (Josh Wiggins), who works on his parent’s farm, falls in love and becomes compassionate with Casey.

The two countryside teenagers fall in love in a hopeless place far away from civilization. Instead of cell phones, their only communication tool is a set of walkie-talkies. When Casey’s abusive father finds out about the teenager’s relationship, he threatens Jonas and insists he stay away from Casey.

During the film Jonas develops a very strong personality by showing bravery as he fights for love, trying to rescue Casey from her abusive father. Casey says, “I want to see the ocean one day.” In this case, the ocean is a symbolic concept, which is represented in Mean Dreams as Casey’s will to be free and autonomous. Director Nathan Morlando portrays it as a teenager’s intent to live in something pure, away from so-called “mean.”

As love and compassion are flourishing between the fifteen-year-olds, Jonas embarks on their escape by stealing a bag of money from Casey’s insane, corrupt cop father. How many life-altering choices will Casey and Jonas have to make in their hazardous trip? Mean Dreams certainly demonstrates us how desperate teenagers under risky circumstances are taught to take serious actions and even sometimes act as criminals in order to survive. The two soul mates profess their first “I love you” in a large verdant field, or rather, in the middle of nowhere as they try to survive the horrible ordeal.

Overall, Mean Dreams definitely has a strong and well-developed plot. Director Nathan Morlando uses a variety of symbolic meanings and compelling subject matters that take place in real life situations; first love, compassion, making choices – all of these topics are contrasted with themes of abuse, greed, corruption and violation.