After making his name in hit nineties Aaron Spelling soap, Beverly Hills 90210, Jason Priestley has become an ever-present feature in the world of film and TV – both as an actor and director. Priestley’s first feature film (outside the TV movie realm) is Cas & Dylan – a heartwarming road movie that sees him team up with screen icon Richard Dreyfuss and Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany.
Cas Pepper (Dreyfuss) is a doctor dying of terminal cancer who plans to die on his own terms. His final journey makes an obscure detour when he reluctantly ends up picking up hitchhiking Dylan Morgan (Maslany), a quirky twenty-two year old wannabe writer.
Cas & Dylan may follow the traditional road trip film dynamic that is driven by the pairing of a bickering odd couple (see The Guilt Trip, Due Date and Planes, Trains & Automobiles etc.) but fortunately feels original and fresh thanks to warm performances and a savvy script from Jessie Gabe. Priestley nails the film’s tone, effortlessly blending the lighter-comic moments with an often highly-charged sentimental tone – resulting in a watch that feels light and gentle but ultimately packs a real emotional punch in its last act.
Gabe’s screenplay is filled with quick-witted dialogue – seen at its best in Cas’s playful jibes at Dylan – and moments of charming, unabashed fun – the rigid Cas’s drink getting spiked is one of the comic highlights, as is seeing Dylan getting cornered by a ‘passionate’ Shania Twain fan. One of the reasons that Cas & Dylan engages so much is through pitch-perfect performances from Dreyfuss and Maslany. Both stars showcase their impressive range handling both the film’s comic and emotional moments with equal gravitas. Dreyfuss adds a deep character to a role which could have easily just become another ‘grumpy curmudgeon’ figure and Maslany is a revelation as the street-smart and spirited young writer who attempts to masks her real vulnerability. The relationship is crafted with a real honesty and heart as we gradually warm to these characters – just as they warm to each other.
Cas & Dylan is at its best in its final moments – which are truly heart-breaking and a testament to the talents of all involved in the feature. Given that Cas is dying of terminal cancer, we know from the onset which direction the ending is heading – yet that does not make the final moments any less affecting. Priestley handles the scene with a real warmth and delicacy as Cas and Dylanultimately say their goodbyes. This conclusion has a heavyweight emotional blow, so much so that it is unlikely that there will be a dry eye in the house.
Cas & Dylan is an inspired feature debut from director Jason Priestley. Filled with warmth, heart and moments of blissful fun, Cas & Dylan is a testament to Dreyfuss and Maslany’s skills as actors and shows us that Priestley is one of the most promising directors working today.
UK Release Date:
22nd February 2014 (Glasgow Film Festival)
Richard Dreyfuss,Tatiana Maslany, Jayne Eastwood