JDIFF Review – Cas & Dylan

Cas (Richard Dreyfuss) and Dylan (Tatiana Maslany) are an odd couple who bond while travelling across Canada. She is an aspiring writer in her early twenties and he is an ailing Doctor determined to make his own choices about his life.

The feature debut of Jason Preistley is not only a coming of age tale, but a coming of death tale that feels a little like Garden State and a little like Harold and Maude, albeit without the romance. Richard Dreyfuss does a great job of playing the tightly wound Cas, who does everything in his power to make sure that his last trip across Cananda is done on his own terms. Dylan, and fate, have other ideas. Dreyfuss has had a long career of playing quirky characters, and Cas is no different, but there is a gentleness hidden underneath the character’s gruff exterior.

Tatiana Maslany captures the character of Dylan, a young woman who has not yet truly frown up, even though she finds reality hurtling toward her at terrifying speed. Running away takes her closer to herself than she could ever have imagined. Maslany’s performance brings Arrested Development’s Maeby to mind, as well as Garden State’s Sam; the similarly masculine name feeling like anything but a coincidence.

Screenwriter Jesse Gabe – known for his work on the Canadian show Being Erica – taps into the vein of odd couple movies and blends this together with touches of great road movies past. The dialogue between the two is great and, even though the ending is trite and more than a little convenient, the script is darkly funny, warm and affecting.

Former teen pinup Jason Priestley directs capably, playing both actors to their strengths and allowing the chemistry between the two leads to sparkle on screen. There are times when the film relies a little too much on its admittedly wonderful soundtrack, meaning there are times where the audience wonders whether this is a road trip movie or a music video. That said, however, the cinematography is beautiful and Priestley has created a Canadian odyssey in Cas & Dylan, making the film an obvious love letter to his home country.

Cas & Dylan is an affecting, heartwarming and surprisingly funny road trip movie that shows the impact we have on one another’s lives. There are some rather convenient plot points, and drawn out musical interludes that draw the film down from greatness, but with threads of Garden State, Thelma and Louise, Harold and Maude and Easy Rider flowing through the film, Cas & Dylan is a strong and affecting movie debut from Priestley; teen heart throb turned director to watch.

Rating: 4/5

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