At the start of the film “Cas & Dylan,” Dr. Cas Pepper, portrayed by Academy Award winning actor Richard Dreyfuss (The Goodbye Girl), learns he has a terminal brain tumor. Rather than choose to live out his last days dying in a hospital bed, he opts to make the drive from Winnipeg, where he lives, to a cabin he owns in Vancouver. Emmy and Golden Globe nominee, “Orphan Black’s” Tatiana Maslany, is along for the ride, playing the role of the free spirited, talkative, Dylan Morgan. The unlikely road trip companions first see one another in the hospital where Cas is on staff and where Dylan, an aspiring writer, is looking for inspiration for her work. (As an aside: Dreyfuss and Maslany each gave the best performance possible, given the material they had to work with.)
The film marks the directorial debut of two time Golden Globe nominee, Jason Priestly (Beverly Hills, 90210). The 90 minute movie was written for the screen by Jessie Gabe (Patch Town). Parts comedy and drama, the film premiered on September 16, 2013 in Canada at the Atlantic Film Festival.
Dylan, who has just gotten off the phone with her boyfriend, Bobby (Christopher Cordell), after he has refused to come pick her up, needs a ride. She observes Cas sitting in his car and approaches him in hopes of getting him to drive her home, informing him that she lives close by. After some persuasion on Dylan’s part, Cas reluctantly agrees. During the drive to where Bobby lives, Cas learns Dylan is a writer; he had to listen to some of her dreadful prose, which she read to him from her spiral notebook. Cas notices that Dylan forgot to take the book with her, when he dropped her off. At first, he throws it out the window, determined to continue on his way, but feeling guilty, drives back and retrieves the notebook. Returning to where he dropped Dylan off, she jumps into his car, as her gun wielding boyfriend chases after her and stands in front of the vehicle. Fearing he has no other choice, Cas runs him over and drives off. Thinking he has killed Bobby, Cas trades in his automobile for an orange Volkswagen, which Dylan names Jennifer. At this point, the road trip antics and adventure, more like a misadventure, begins.
My main problem with the film is that it goes nowhere. Nothing of an exciting, or for that matter really interesting nature takes place. For example, in one scene Dylan spikes the coffee she is about to give Cas. I thought the humor factor of the film would start to pick up. Instead, the viewer is treated to Cas wanting to put the top down in the Volkswagen because he is feeling hot, donning a blonde wig, and howling like a wolf for several seconds. In addition to that riveting piece of cinema, we see the two road trippers stay overnight in a motel, where Cas teaches Dylan how to make sauce. The duo get into a minor accident when they swerve off the road. While at the repair shop they cross paths with Rose (Corinne Conley), a kindly, older woman, who invites them to stay the night at her home, where she lives with Jack (Eric Peterson), her amorous husband. They also have a visit to the office of a publisher, who for some reason, which will be made clear upon arrival to the office, has contacted Dylan about interest in the manuscript she sent them. At best, the scene is mildly entertaining.
There are only two scenes which contain any emotional depth. One scene is when Cas, as a result of not receiving proper medical treatment for his condition suffers an attack and is taken to a hospital. The other scene involves the significance of why he wants to travel to the cabin in Vancouver; it goes beyond just his wanting to have a serene atmosphere to view in his final moments of life.
One of the few aspects of the film that I did think was well executed was Gerald Packer’s cinematography. He does a wonderful job of capturing the beauty of the Canadian Rockies. Even given the movie’s short duration, and being a fan of Maslany on “Orphan Black,” the film, unfortunately, was a struggle to get through; I checked my watch several times, which is never a good sign. I can’t recommend this movie to anyone, except those, who like myself, are fans of “Orphan Black” and Maslany’s outstanding portrayal of her various clone personas, and who want to see her in something different, even given the caveats I have set forth about this film.