- Movie Rating -

A Dream of Passion (1978)

| August 10, 1978

The idea of retrofitting the Greek tragedy of Medea – the ancient story of a woman who murdered her children as punishment for her husband’s infidelity – into modern times requires, needless to say, kid gloves.  Without a steady hand, the refurbishment of this story comes off as either shamefully manipulative or painfully exploitive.  Jules Dassan’s A Dream of Passion fits comfortable into the former.

Melina Mercouri plays Maya, a Greek actress leading her acting troup into a new stage production of the tragedy with herself in the title role.  As the rehearsals are underway, she gets wind of a straight-from-the-headlines story of Brenda Collins, an American living in Greece, who years before committed a crime that eerily resembles the story itself.

In a burst of – I guess – inspiration, Maya decides to spend an unhealthy amount of time visiting Collins (Ellen Burstyn) in prison and listening to her account of what happened.  It turns out that this woman believed that it was her divine calling to murder the children to make her husband pay penance for his transgression.  Plus, she admits that she committed this atrocity to keep the children from being step-mothered by the other woman in question.

There are two stories going on here, the half with Mercouri trying to get a feel for the story, and the other half with Burstyn recounting what happened.  But they never gel together.  One is always left feeling that Burstyn’s tragedy is being manipulated by Mercouri for . . . who knows what?  While it is well-acted, especially by Burstyn, the movie curiously has little to say about women, about God, about murder, about infidelity, about prison, about really much of anything.

Reviewed August 2, 2019

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1978) View IMDB Filed in: Drama