'Life is a tremendously tragic event'

HOW FAR would you go to get rich quick or clear a mountain of debt? That is the question Woody Allen asks in his dark new movie Cassandra's Dream, starring Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell as working-class London brothers desperate to get ahead in life.

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Published: Tue 4 Sep 2007, 11:51 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:45 AM

"It's simply a story of some very nice young people who get caught up, because of their weaknesses and because of their ambitions, in a tragic situation that they bring upon themselves," Allen told reporters in Venice, where his picture is being presented at the annual film festival.

The Oscar-winning U.S. director returns to the theme of ruthless ambition and moral ambiguity which he explored in his 2005 film Match Point, and said Cassandra's Dream reflected his view of life as a "tremendously tragic event."

"I've always felt that life itself, and this is no brilliant observation, is a tremendously tragic event, I mean a real mess," a distinctly downbeat Allen explained.

"I do have a bleak, pessimistic view of life and man's fate, the human condition, but I do feel there are some extremely amusing oases in that morass," the 71-year-old added.

Cassandra's Dream tells the story of brothers Ian (McGregor) and Terry (Farrell) and the fateful day they make a pact with their rich uncle, played by Tom Wilkinson.

Ian is an ambitious charmer who falls in love with a beautiful young actress and dreams of a better life in Los Angeles, while Terry has a gambling habit that gets out of control, felling his drinking and drug addiction.

Irish-born Farrell, said being cast as a frail and vulnerable character racked with guilt was a refreshing change from action hero roles for which he is best known.

"It was really liberating to be able to just concern yourself with capturing moments of the common man, which is what I personally perceive myself much more to be," he said.

"(It was) very liberating to not be playing the hero."

McGregor said Allen's direction was quicker, less deliberate than other film makers he had worked with, relying on fewer takes for each scene and demanding extensive preparation.

"It's electric, it's wonderful, you get home at 4.30 in the afternoon, you can have a life, it's quite nice," he said.

Scarlett Johanssen 'not my muse'

Rising star Scarlett Johanssen has worked with Woody Allen on three movies now, but "she's not my muse," the veteran director Woody Allen said.

"Scarlett is a wonderful actress, she reverberates off anyone she plays with, and she has a great future ahead of her," Allen told a news conference. "But I never think of her as my muse."

Asked to compare Johanssen with longtime film partner Diane Keaton, Allen said: "There's a very strong chemistry between Diane and myself," noting that they acted in "eight or nine" films together.

Allen and Johanssen acted together in Scoop (2006), and she appears in his 2005 film Match Point.

A drama set in Barcelona starring Johanssen was finished "five days ago," and does not have a title yet, Allen said.

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