Almost 20 years before the Inception one-upmanship focused on the dream phenomenon, Emir Kusturica directed Johnny Depp in the surreal comedy fantasy Arizona Dream. The film was produced by Claudie Ossard (Delicatessen / Amélie) and is typical of the genre of weird art-house films in which Depp appeared regularly before finding mainstream appeal as a Disney pirate.
The plot, as it stands, follows the dreamlike escapades of Axel Blackmar (Depp), a wanderer who took on the obscure task of tagging fish for the Fish and Game Department of the # 39; New York State. His aspiring cousin actor Paul Leger (Vincent Gallo) shows up to announce that their uncle Leo (Jerry Lewis) is planning to marry his Polish fiancee Millie (model Paulina Porizkova) a girl over half of his age and that he wants Axel to be his best man; Reluctantly, Axel accompanies Paul to their hometown of Arizona.
In his best role since playing a version of himself in Martin Scorsese's King of Comedy, Jerry Lewis is exceptional as Axel & # 39; s Uncle Leo; A successful and contagiously optimistic Cadillac salesman and a living testament to the 'American Dream' paradoxically ravaged by the survivor's guilt for causing the accident that killed Axel's parents, he persuades him to stay after the wedding and to try their hand at car sales.
Axel's first potential clients are eccentric widow Elaine Stalker (Faye Dunaway) and suicidal stepdaughter Grace (Lili Taylor). that night; here screenwriter David Watkins (Novocaine) delivers one of the most incredibly fun surprise scenes I've seen and from now on I was totally hooked.
Axel embarks on an affair with Elaine and despite their crazy demeanor and slim understanding of reality, this May-September romance is compelling and truly moving to watch, especially her attempts to build the flying machine she's always dreamed of. The film's theme of the pursuit of dreams in the face of reality is deepened; Uncle Leo dreams of stacking Cadillacs high enough to reach the moon, Grace dreams of reincarnating as a turtle, and Paul aspires to be a great actor by replicating his favorite movie scenes, providing one weird sets when he puts it all together. Harvesting duster sequence from the classic Hitchcock North by Northwest for a local talent show.
Kusturica is clearly a master filmmaker and he manages to maintain a dreamlike feel throughout the film's 142 minutes of operation, he's still funny but also has a haunting mystical quality that makes for a compelling viewing and thankfully the French version of Blu- ray contains a DTS-HD 5.1 English audio main track with applied subtitles only for the clips of Raging Bull and The Godfather: Part II, the full 1080p picture quality is stunning and the 20 minutes that was cut of the theatrical release have been completely restored.
Arizona Dream is impeccably performed and although it is evident that an element of improvisation has gone into the story and the script is strong and stays true to its purpose by evoking the absurd quality and surreal of dreams, an element that is totally lacking in Christopher Nolan's Inception, the same could be said for the laughs of which there is also an abundance here, making it a must have for fans of Depp's past work.