THREE AND A HALF STARS Mild-mannered Professor Paul is appearing in everyone's dreams, uninvited. It's fun, until it isn't.
COMEDY US English #DREAMSCENARIO
Starring Nicolas Cage, Julianne Nicholson
Stepping firmly into the kind of territory once held by Charlie Kaufman (BEING JOHN MALKOVICH), DREAM SCENARIO is oddball at it’s oddest. Nicolas Cage (who coincidentally starred as a fictional Kaufman in 2002’s ADAPTATION) is suburban professor Paul Matthews who starts appearing in other peoples dreams. He doesn’t do anything, just stands and watches as their dream or nightmare unfolds. And as more and more people are ‘visited’ by him, Paul becomes an overnight sensation bringing with it a taste of fame that he’s long yearned for.
Yet there’s no free lunch. Why, frets Paul, is he so passive in these dreams? Why doesn’t he go full-Rambo and actually do something? Then suddenly, inexplicably, his dream-self does and the public turns - it’s hard to love a slasher even if he is just an imagined figment. Could this be the price of the Faustian bargain Paul so quickly and thoughtlessly made?
There’s much to enjoy about the absurdity of DREAM SCENARIO, especially as Paul is freaked out by, then embraces and awkwardly leverages, the bizarre circumstances in which he finds himself. There’s some nice riffing on the evils of social media by writer/director Kristoffer Borgli as people first celebrate then despise Paul, hating the person for a persona over which he has no control.
As Borgli traverses comedy and horror to romance, the film veers in unexpected ways and not all of them are entirely successful. That said, DREAM SCENARIO is always entertaining as it jabs a finger at cancellation, masculinity, navigating celebrity and online engagement, and it has a lot of fun doing so. Even if the film doesn’t entirely fulfil its promise there’s much to like with a perfectly cast Cage leading the charge as he deploys his signature blend of awkward, angsty, likeable rage from under a convincingly bad wig.