Cas & Dylan

He wanted a peaceful trip. He got her instead.

The open road never disappoints as a setting for Canadian film. Goin’ Down The Road wouldn’t have meant much had Joey and Pete not gassed up and pointed that Chevy Impala westward.

Poster art for Cas & DylanCas & Dylan, Jason Priestley’s big-screen directing debut, provides the same sort of visuals that inspire patriotic sensibilities and establish this as a uniquely Canuck odyssey.

It helps to have a pair of terrific actors, with Tatiana Maslany (tv’s ‘Orphan Black’) more than holding her own as the rootless wannabe writer Dylan against screen stalwart Richard Dreyfuss, who obviously relishes the role of curmudgeonly Winnipeg doctor, Cas Pepper.

Writer Jessie Gabe, moving from television (‘Mr. D’, ‘Being Erica’) to film, punctuates the story with genuine heart that brings Cas & Dylan to an unexpected conclusion, revealing a screenwriter unafraid to do the honest thing by her characters.

How they get there is simple: Dylan talks her way into stranger Cas’ car as he readies to take off out west. Cas is stoic about a terminal cancer diagnosis and has decided to drive to B.C. to visit a woman from his past.

Circumstances dictate that they trade Cas’ boring sedan for an orange vintage VW Beetle, a perfect ride for the TransCanada Highway to reveal itself and its small-town charms, characters, rundown motels and junk shops. It’s set to a cracking good score featuring music from Canadian acts Whitehorse, the Sheepdogs, Jenn Grant and Old Man Luedecke.

As much of a pain in the butt as flaky Dylan can be, she grows on Cas – and us – in unexpected ways and the crotchety doc finds he has the power to change the outcome in someone else’s life, even as he can’t change his own.

Priestley shows a steady eye for detail in his first time as director, although he sometimes lets the film stray too much into tv territory. But even though Cas & Dylan isn’t as polished as it could be, there are still enough pleasing moments to make this road trip worth the ride.

– Linda Barnard, The Toronto Star

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