One of the movies I most regretted missing at this year’s Fantastic Fest was one of the festival’s secret screenings, which just happened to be the latest film featuring Nicolas Cage. Dream Scenario allows Cage to shine in ways not previously attempted in his previous films. The actor portrays a very modest and unassuming college professor who would not usually be the typical object of celebrity.
Cage stars as Biology professor Paul Matthews, a bald, frumpy, intelligent, but not exciting teacher who desires more recognition for his work but cannot get out of his way to accomplish more. Paul’s life gets flipped upside down when he discovers that he has become the subject of several people’s dreams. Initially, he has been appearing in the dreams of people he knows; however, he soon realizes that he has been appearing in the dreams of people he does not know.
This strange, unexplained phenomenon eventually makes Paul a celebrity, as everyone wants to know why he is the one who appears in so many people’s nocturnal adventures. This new cult of celebrity feels bizarre; however, Paul sees this newfound fame as an opportunity to advance his academic career. He soon discovers that his notoriety has a downside, as the dreams he appears in more quickly take a negative turn.
Written and directed by Kristoffer Borgli, Dream Scenario starts as a strange but amusing comedy but evolves into a very telling satire about the current state of viral celebrity and the various aspects of this experience–both positive and negative. Borgli does a fantastic job of taking the audience through this wild journey of how an average person can become a viral celebrity in our modern culture. The experience delivers plenty of awkward humor in all the best ways, and Nicolas Cage earns his place as the perfect case of excellent casting.
The eccentric actor feels tailor-made for this role, and Cage never overplays his part in this wonderful satire. The movie has a great cast of actors, but the performances of actors Julianne Nicholson, Michael Cera, Dylan Gelula, and Kate Berlant really stood out for me. The reality is that Nicolas Cage is the absolute star of this show, and I sincerely hope that he gets recognized with some acting nominations for extraordinary performance in this film.
The mix of brilliant writing, direction, and acting by Cage makes this film one of my favorites of this year. Dream Scenario is a wild and surreal ride at times, but it also feels genuine, given our current state of celebrity culture. This is the first movie I have watched by filmmaker Kristoffer Borgli, and I hope this will lead to more exciting work from him.