Angsty teenagers and other assorted characters end up in a desolate, New Mexico trailer park called Dreamland—some are living there, while some are just passing through. It’s an earnest film that tries hard but misses. John Corbett of Sex and the City heads the cast and shines as a long-suffering widower who finds at least a little bit of solace inside of a bottle. He’s also the father of Audrey (Agnes Bruckner), who receives college acceptance letters yet hides them so she can stay and care for her dad. Then there’s her friend (Kelli Garner), who’s stricken with multiple sclerosis and gets involved with a newcomer to the area: a rehabbing basketball player (Justin Long from Dodgeball), who also likes Audrey.
The best thing here is Jonathan Sela’s photography, which is absolutely stunning and reminiscent of the “magic hour” shots in Terrence Malick’s seminal Days of Heaven. The 1.85:1 anamorphic picture is lush, and the parched terrain and high skies composed of potent browns and blues are genuinely affecting. The film was shot outdoors, so it’s sometimes a bit of a strain to make out the dialogue. Otherwise, though, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is fine. There are no extras.
Dreamland is sincere in its attempt to portray well-meaning characters as seemingly lost as the nowhere place they live. Although the story is relatively pat, the 2006 Sundance selection is long on beauty, both in characters and settings, if not so much on insight.