Wishing for a Dream tries to set itself apart from the seemingly endless amount of movies about moviemaking by positioning itself on the fringe of Hollywood. The film is about Mika and Louis, respectively an actress and writer/director, who both seem to be on the verge of success but are still learning about the harsh industry. With a low budget and a raw style, the film aims to be realistic deconstruction of Hollywood glamor, but is held back by stiff writing, implausible plot developments, and some strange style choices.
Sara Malakul Lane carries the film as Mika, an actress suffering from insomnia and fighting for her big break. As she struggles to fall asleep, she turns to drugs and alcohol, which culminates with several out-of-place hallucination scenes. Director Jared Cohn plays Louis, the struggling young director and Mika’s boyfriend, but seems out of place as an actor. Cohn often mumbles his lines and displays uneven emotions.
The story is full of emotional up and down as the two struggling artists experience professional wins and losses and fight amongst themselves. Their relationship appears to be falling apart, and they are at odds with one another professionally and creatively. The stark documentary-esque style of the film manages to create a strong sense of emotional realism as the characters struggle to make it in the world.
However, the raw, often handheld style occasionally distracts from the film with poor production values. The sound is often noticeably poor with muddled dialogue, uneven volume, out of synch stock sound effects, and music that overpowers the scene. Several montages are marred with amateur-style cinematography, such as a few seconds of looking at out of focus sidewalks during a driving scene.
The film’s dialogue is also a major weakness. Sometimes it feels like incredibly poor improv, while other times the actors strain as they attempt to hit awkward beats. All of the characters talk with the same tone and language, especially the two leads. Mika and Louis drop the f-bomb nearly every line, and while explicit language is usually welcome in modern movies, it happens so much that it’s unnatural, realistic, and has no power whatsoever. In fact, it just becomes tiring hearing the word.
The biggest flaw of Wishing for a Dream is the film’s ending, which erases the previous hour and a half of realism and grit. The last scene sloppily writes an outrageous and implausible conclusion to the story that is so tone-deaf if almost feels like a hallucination. Any expectation of it being wiped out in a plot twist goes away when the film ends on a freeze-frame like a 1980s sitcom, and then shows a montage that affirms the ridiculous ending.
Although Wishing on a Dream tells a compelling story with decent acting, several distracting flaws take away from the indie film. The poor production design and strange dialogue often take away from the character-driven story. However, the film’s biggest weakness is its out of place and laughable Hollywood ending, which does its best to erase the realistic and down-to-earth deconstruction of the Hollywood dream.