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The Independent Critic

Ellen Cosgrove, Ross Scarfield, Diego Alcacer, George Webster, Eddie Brimson, Amanda Piery, Norman Cook
Jamie Patterson
105 Mins.

 "City of Dreamers" Review 
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All it takes is one person.

One person who believes. One person who supports. One person who guides. One person who loves. If our paths somehow cross the path of that one person, beautiful things can happen.

Rose (Newcomer Ellen Cosgrove) really needs that one person when she arrives in her new home of Brighton, a wounded soul hoping to start her life over and forget the life she's left behind. Immersing herself in the arts culture of Brighton, Rose begins to discover who she is and who she wants to be while slowly being brought back to life by a wonderful assortment of ordinary folks who believe, support, guide and love.

Filled with exquisite, heartfelt music and a core of faith in the human experience, City of Dreamers is an absolutely sublime cinematic experience that will leave you gently swaying to the music while falling in love with each and every one of its characters.

Written and directed by Jamie Patterson (Billboard), City of Dreamers has a low-key profile reminiscent of the indie gem Once, a film that was similarly funny and sweet and insightful and filled with extraordinary music.

While Marketa Irglova was charming and musically stunning in Once, Ellen Cosgrove is a complete package as the lovely and gifted Rose. Cosgrove, lead singer of Brighton's Ellen and the Echo, is not just an exceptionally talented singer planting herself in an exceptionally musical film, but also an incredibly insightful and nuanced actress whose ability to convey both the confidence of a singer and the wounded vulnerability associated with Rose's undisclosed background is vital to the character and the film's success.

While Patterson surrounds Rose with a rather quirky assortment of characters, to the credit of this ensemble cast they play out as fully human rather than quirky or eccentric. Rose strikes up a friendship with Harry (Ross Scarfield), a friendship filled with romantic sparks yet held back by the baggage that both bring to the table. Along the way, Rose also finds inspiration and acceptance from a homeless man named Joe (Eddy Brimson), a rather unique laundrette customer (Diego Alcacer) and her absolutely wonderful roommates, Kyle (George Webster) and Nicole (Amanda Piery).

City of Dreams is devoid of the faux conflicts and excessively dramatic scenes so often associated with major studio wide releases, instead preferring to allow its characters to exist in a kinder, gentler world that makes you want to hop on a plane and fly on over to Brighton to experience this community for yourself. It's the kind of film that will leave you humming along with it for days while fondly remembering each of these people and the ways in which they somehow made each other's life better.

The film is marred ever so slightly by a couple of questionable edits, the most notable being during a scene in which Rose finds herself harassed. As the scene unfolds, there are a series of rapid-fire cuts that become a tad confusing and that lessen the impact of the scene. Minor quibbles aside, the film's technical achievements are quite impressive for an independent, low-budget production.

Having debuted at the Duke of Yorks Cinema this past December, City of Dreams has already been accepted by five out of five film festivals to which it has been submitted and has been nominated for Best Film at Madrid International Film Festival.

For more information on City of Dreams, visit the film's website at the link listed to the left of this review.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic