From the Venice Film Festival, The Independent‘s Gerry McNab reports that “many critics” who saw Woody Allen‘s Cassandra’s Dream yesterday declared it “feeble and dispiriting fare — the work of an old master in decline.”

McNab also calls it “a stuttering drama” that even conveys “a sense that cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and the composer Philip Glass [are] working at half-throttle.”

“No one [at the press conference inside the Venice Casino] picked up on the slack tempo of Cassandra’s Dream, its bizarrely genteel portrayal of London, (at times, the film resembles an episode of EastEnders) or its dramatic lacunae.

“When Allen came on stage in Venice’s Casino yesterday, he cut a strangely fragile and melancholic figure,” McNab writes. “Flanked by young British actress Hayley Attwell and the two males stars,. Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell, he sat there silently in his headphones, waiting for an interminable opening question from an Italian journalist to be translated into English. When he finally did speak, his voice sounded faint.

“In Italy, as in France, Allen is still adored. He is still the ‘maestro,’ even if his films are increasingly lacking in the comic zest and ingenuity that once characterised them.

“The response he was given in Venice yesterday was gentle and solicitous. No curve balls were thrown in his direction. It was as if a beloved elderly relative had come to town. Sure enough, there was at least one Italian journalist ready to stand up and congratulate him on his latest ‘masterpiece,’ seemingly oblivious to the fact that this is surely one of his weakest films.”