In writer-director Katie Cokinos’s coming-of-age film, I Dream Too Much, post-grad anxiety is brought into full frame. The movie, which shows this Sunday at Houston Cinema Arts Festival, shines a light on life as a Millennial, brought to life through poignant, true-to-life moments.
As recent liberal arts grads, many of my friends and I spent months listless and lost after college. When I say this to Cokinos, she laughs and replies, “That was totally me too! I graduated from A&M with a history and philosophy degree and didn’t know what to do with my life…I was interested in capturing that time period after college—which is exciting but also a little stressful.”
The movie, exec produced by Richard Linklater, revolves around Dora, a lost and dizzy twenty-something played with striking authenticity by doe-eyed Eden Brolin. She plans on whisking away to Brazil with a friend, but money can be a little tight for a girl who doesn’t come from rich parents. While her friend sends pictures from the beach, Dora is stuck in snowy New Jersey, where her pragmatic mother tries to shake her from her dreamworld and set her on the path to law school. In one of the film’s many resonant moments, Dora wistfully says, "I thought college would help me escape, but it failed. I'm right back where I started—plain and small."
Cokinos, who wrote and directed the film, freshens up this familiar story line with whip-smart dialogue, a rich literary culture, and Dora’s hilarious Jane Austen-esque fantasy sequences—all set in a winter wonderland skirted by the Catskills. Dora’s coming-of-age is subtly sequenced throughout the film in scraps of paper that hold scribbled fragments of her thoughts and dreams.
Like Dora, Cokinos was pressured into going to law school. Thankfully for us, she turned to film instead. “It’s necessary for everyone’s growth to get away from an old paradigm and think about your path. To get to what you want, you can’t wear those values of what’s put upon you…it’s important to cultivate [your] inner voice,” she says. “It’s the whole idea of the film—[Dora] sitting down and going inside herself, instead of jumping on a plane and going to Brazil. She’s forced to deal with herself—and that’s where her true growth is.”
I Dream Too Much. Sunday, Nov 15. 7:30. $10. Houston Cinema Arts Festival, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. houstoncinemaartsfestival.org