Perhaps one of the more original movies in the last decade, Dream Scenario leaves you with a lot to ponder.
Nicolas Cage has had a very diverse acting career. For awhile, he was a bonafide action star who churned out below-average, fast-paced flicks so often. Thankfully, the back half of his career might be the most enjoyable starring in movies like Mandy, Pig, and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Now we can include Dream Scenario among those films, and it may even be the best of the bunch. Cage is hilarious in the lead role and so much of the performance feels effortless in addition to showing just how underappreciated the 59-year-old actor still is.
Dream Scenario is incredibly original, as the story follows Paul, who is essentially a very average, boring man that teaches at a local university. Paul is a family man who has a wife and two teenage kids, living day by day just like anyone else. Slowly, his life is turned upside down when he suddenly begins appearing in people’s dreams. Mostly as an onlooker and someone who doesn’t help the person having the dream when they are in danger. As someone who often feels overlooked, Paul admittedly enjoys this newfound stardom as he continues to appear in more and more dreams around the world. He is hoping this fame can help him connect with a publisher so he can write a book that he has been putting off for years. But as time goes on and more people start dreaming of him, things take a turn for the worse.
After meeting with a company that wants to use Paul’s phenomenon for profit, he learns of an employee that had a sex dream about him. Without spoiling anything, this meeting causes everything to change for Paul as he begins to appear violent in people’s dreams. At this point, the script becomes its most captivating as we watch things snowball until the credits roll. The events following that meeting demonstrate what we as a society would be doing in this situation so well with cancel culture, memes, and cell phones pointing in your face around every turn. In retrospect, what you witness here will feel reminiscent of an extended episode of The Twilight Zone.
Nicolas Cage is flat-out brilliant in his role as Paul. You truly feel sorry for him as his life falls apart and the worst part is how it seems like this is exactly how it would all happen in the real world. The multiple tone shifts are navigated beautifully, which in part make for a film that is paced very well. The biggest issue the movie encounters is the ending, which feels rushed as if the writer/director Kristoffer Borgli didn’t quite know how to end this story. But on the flip side, it’s such a unique movie where there really is no easy ending to conjure up for this particular story. Overall, Dream Scenario is very captivating, albeit ambitious. It manages to stay grounded in its absurdity and will be end up being one of the more memorable films to come out in 2023.
(out of five stars)