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Dream Scenario

Nicolas Cage's latest delivers an intriguing and refreshingly original film

Nicolas Cage has recently used his star power to shine the light on daring up and coming filmmakers, bringing truly original ideas to the screen such as Mandy (2018), Pig (2021), and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022). Cage continues this trend with his latest film, Dream Scenario (2023).

Dream Scenario is the story of Paul Matthews (Cage), a university professor of evolutionary biology who leads a quiet life with his wife (Julianne Nicholson) and two daughters (Lily Bird, Jessica Clement). Paul is the type of awkward acting and forgettable-looking person who goes through life being largely invisible. Paul suddenly becomes incredibly famous when, through no fault of his own, he begins to show up in thousands of people’s dreams.

Dream Scenario is written and directed by director Kristoffer Borgli, who’s made only two previous Norwegian indies. With his first American film, Borgli not only explores the narrative limits of his concept but also brings a larger commentary on the virality and cancel culture of today. This latter theme is presented intriguingly, Paul is initially charmed being in other people’s normal dreams, however, what happens when Paul appears in nightmares or sexual dreams? The ramifications and consequences help illustrate the ruthless and consuming culture that has evolved around fame in the internet era.

Dream Scenario also has a hilariously effective commentary on ubiquitous commercialization. Companies start to propose Paul showing up in their commercials to have their products associated with him and thus seep into their dreams. Borgli truly ponders and shows how he believed our current world would react if this event were ever to take place. Curiously, a similar hoax of people dreaming about the same person in the US turned out to be an advertising experiment on collective mythology.

Nicolas Cage, once again, delivers a dedicated performance that is rather thankless in its balance of awkwardness and perfect comedic timing. Cage disappears into his role, something rather remarkable given his acting style, yet one truly saw a tortured professor out of his depth in dealing with virality. Cage’s performance harkens back particularly to his dual role in Adaptation (2002), in his hunched over and stuttering presence. The American actor also has to play the outlandish in the dream sequences, while undergoing the subtle insanity crescendo his character experiences.

Dream Scenario wanders as it reaches its final act; Borgli doubles down on commentary about fame and dangers of vilification, getting lost and watering down his character’s journey. An untidy and incongruous set of sequences towards the end also blunts the impact of the underlying message Borgli is making, playing for laughs instead.

Dream Scenario is undoubtedly one of the most original films of recent years, delivering a controlled and absorbing performance from Cage. Borgli brings about intriguing commentary on fame, and, while getting lost in the third act, brings about one of the more captivating watches of the year.



About Young Critic

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I've been writing on different version of this website since February of 2013. I originally founded the website in a film-buff phase in high school, but it has since continued through college and into my adult life. Young Critic may be getting older, but the love and passion for film is forever young. 

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