Brenda Jackson (Karen Simpson), an up and coming singer spends her days (and nights) toiling in Canadian bars, hoping to get noticed by someone in a position to make her dreams come true.
While performing one of her two bit gigs, – we don’t actually see her sing but what follows next tells us she must be a fabulous singer so we just go along with it,- she meets a man. A handsome, smooth talking, emotionally distant fellow. He promises to make her a star. Nothing he says or does is faintly original, or exciting, come to think of it, but Brenda falls hard for him. So we go along again with this improbable romance.
After a personal tragedy, she begins to depend on him for everything and handsome, smooth talking, emotionally distant fellow gradually transforms into a major douchebag. When Steve Reeds (Martin Lindquist) has Brenda just where he wants her, he begins to manipulate and abuse her, first emotionally and mentally, then the physical violence follows.
Fairy tale becomes horror story fast and if Brenda had any brains from the start, she could have picked up the signs from Steve’s shifty language, and from his half assed stories of emotional abuse in his childhood. But Brenda is in love, and people in love do stupid things. Like not walking away at the first sign of trouble. Or waiting till their tormentor is conveniently at home to stop them, then making a half-hearted attempt at packing their stuff to leave. Did we mention Steve runs a foundation that raises funds for protecting abused women? Yup! he does.
Brenda finally decides she’s had enough, grows a pair and walks away. She meets someone new, a Nigerian immigrant with a heart of gold after a spell and begins to dare to love again. But Steve, ever the tormentor, has one last nasty surprise for her that could threaten her future happiness.
Directed in an uninspiring, check-the-boxes style by Isioro Tokunbo Jaboro, Saving Dreams is really a straight to DVD effort that found its way to cinemas only because it was made outside the country.
The producers had a limited budget available to them and it shows clearly on screen as the space is micromanaged such that the film which is set mostly in interiors and in a couple of public spaces begins to feel claustrophobic.
Nobody familiar is in Saving Dreams and while the actors don’t turn in Oscar worthy performances, they at least keep things watchable, even when most of it’s predictable and plot twists can be spotted a mile away. Karen Simpson may not have the range or screen presence of your beloved thespian, and the role of a wimp who eventually develops a spine is not the most challenging but at least she makes some effort to connect. Too bad that the film has no intentions or even ability to be anything more than a Saturday matinee.
The story is far from original and comes across as dense. It trudges along with no genuine thrills or excitement, just a predictable slugfest. Even the twist in the final third fails to bring forth any spark. It is pretty obvious from the get go how this one will end.
Based on a true story, films like Saving Dreams made by Nigerians in the diaspora for Nigerians everywhere else are usually dodgy entities with multiple false rings attached to them. Sometimes revealing nothing but the intentions of their backers. Usually too, they hire familiar actors to stimulate patronage.
Nobody who misses this at the cinemas where it is now showing have done themselves any disservice.