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Release Date: 12/22/23 [Cinemas]
Genre: Comedy. Horror.

Studio: A24. 

"A hapless family man finds his life turned upside down when millions of strangers suddenly start seeing him in their dreams. When his nighttime appearances take a nightmarish turn, Paul is forced to navigate his newfound stardom." 


You put Nic Cage on the silver screen and I'm there. No doubt about it. The man has the most electric screen presence of any man alive right now even becoming a famous meme in internet culture. Not just a meme, the meme rather - his outrageous deliveries and erratic movement - many moments of his filmography have been tossed around the internet; good or bad, you probably have your favorite Cage moment. Not too long ago, we got The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent which meditated on the star's legacy on the silver screen; however, it was a meditation I found rather hollow. So I was genuinely quite curious with what Dream Scenario would bring to the table. 


From the beginning, the film is quite transparent; it wants to focus on the sociological idea of Nicolas Cage; memetics. His casting feels very specific in this conversation in dissecting how the very idea of a person can evolve rapidly in today's modern culture. In Dream Scenario, our dreams are literally memes. In a world wide phenomenon, one single person, Paul Matthews appears in the dreams of many people across the earth. It covers his rise as an overnight celebrity. Then the film wants to meditate on today's “cancel culture”, focusing on how these ideas of a person evolve once there's reason to find this person somewhat unfavorable.


In theory, the ideas that Dream Scenario wants to talk about are interesting, but writer/director Kristoffer Borgli doesn't know how to take the film's fascinating esoteric atmosphere really anywhere worth talking about. Honestly, the way it brings up some central plot points and themes feel somewhat contrived. It never really quite feels organic, even making quite jarring leaps in the back half of its runtime. It hangs a little bit too much on the idea of “what if everyone dreamt of a dude?” and never quite finds proper footing. Whenever it does come up with something to say, it comes across as a bit rote. 


The performances are fine. Nicolas Cage gives a good performance, but I wish his character wasn't so uninteresting to watch. There's many similarities to his portrayal of Charlie Kaufman in Spike Jonze's Adaptation, but Borgli never really brings any interesting hooks to Paul Matthews. Perhaps Borgli is attempting to comment on societies knack to male big deals about people with nothing interesting about them and turn against them once they show a side that people won't like, even though they're just like everyone else. However, if that's the case, I feel we really need more things happening around Paul for him to interact with because in this world he feels rather passive.


Unfortunately, I found Dream Scenario disappointing. I do love a good Nic Cage performance, but this kind of fails to stick out from his most exceptional and his most outrageous. Borgli’s images and editing are quite nice, but his storytelling here is quite boneless and vapid. Excited for his next feature, but this really needed more.

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