Nicolas Cage’s screen presence has often been described as mercurial, volcanic, or volatile, but in Kristoffer Borgli’s “Dream Scenario,” he takes on a surprisingly mundane and schlubby role.
As Paul Matthews, a college professor at a nondescript institution, Cage’s portrayal of a perfectly mediocre man is both chilling and comic.
With his graying beard, wire-rimmed spectacles, and shiny bald spot, Paul is the epitome of the average guy that you would typically ignore in a room.
Despite his previous roles as larger-than-life characters, Cage’s ability to embody the drabness of Paul is a testament to his versatility as an actor.
This unexpected performance adds a new layer to Cage’s already impressive body of work, showcasing his range and depth as a performer.
It was a normal day, just like any other. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and the world seemed to be in perfect harmony.
But then, without warning, everything changed. It was as if the fabric of reality had been torn apart, and a strange phenomenon began to occur.
Paul, a seemingly ordinary man, started to appear in people’s dreams. At first, it was just a few isolated incidents, dismissed as mere coincidences.
However, as time went on, more and more people reported seeing Paul in their dreams. It didn’t matter if they knew him or not, he was there, lurking in the depths of their subconscious.
It was a surreal and unsettling experience for everyone involved. Some began to question their sanity, while others sought out answers to this bizarre occurrence.
The once mundane and predictable world was now filled with uncertainty and fear. What could possibly be causing this strange manifestation?
And more importantly, would it ever come to an end? The implications of this inexplicable phenomenon were vast and unknown, leaving everyone to grapple with the unsettling reality that something truly peculiar was happening.
The concept at hand is both intriguing and precarious. It brought to mind a similar premise in the movie “Yesterday,” where only one person on Earth remembers the Beatles.
While this makes for an exciting start, one can’t help but wonder how the story will be sustained. However, Borgli, the Norwegian writer-director making his English-language debut (with Ari Aster as co-producer), aims to delve into a broader commentary on the nature of fame.
Though the topic may not be entirely original, it is ripe for exploration in the right hands, especially with an actor as innovative and unpredictable as Cage.
The film seems to suggest that fame can be alluring, yet it can also quickly turn against you, unless you happen to be Taylor Swift (although that last part was added in jest).
The story begins on an autumn day by a suburban swimming pool, where Paul, accompanied by his teenage daughter, is raking leaves.
Suddenly, frightening objects begin to fall from the sky, and the girl is snatched by an unknown force and lifted, screaming, into the air.
Despite being her father, Paul does nothing to help. It turns out to be the girl’s dream, but then more unsettling dreams follow.
Paul and his supportive wife, Janet (played by the reliably excellent Julianne Nicholson), encounter someone at the theater who also had a dream about Paul.
At a dinner party, several guests are shocked to realize that they have all been dreaming about the same person – Paul.
The situation on campus has taken a dramatic turn as Paul’s previously disengaged students have suddenly become captivated by his presence.
This unexpected shift in attention has left Paul feeling both elated and bewildered, as he grapples with the sudden spotlight on his unremarkable lectures on evolutionary biology.
In a strange twist, Paul finds himself sought after by a group of branding experts who are eager to market him for commercial success.
Despite his initial reluctance, Paul is tempted by the prospect of an endorsement from none other than Barack Obama.
However, the newfound attention takes a dark turn when Paul becomes the subject of unsettling dreams and experiences a swift and painful fall from grace.
As his once adoring students turn against him and he faces public humiliation, Paul is left to grapple with the harsh reality of his sudden notoriety.
In the realm of branding consultants, the response to Paul’s inquiry about potentially securing Barack Obama for an engagement appears to be a resounding negative.
Instead, they suggest alternative options, proposing the possibility of arranging a meeting with Joe Rogan or perhaps Tucker Carlson.
This redirection underscores the consultants’ adeptness in recognizing and leveraging the current landscape of public figures and media personalities.
By offering these alternative options, they demonstrate a keen understanding of the evolving dynamics within the realm of public influence and engagement.
Moreover, their ability to pivot from one high-profile individual to others of significant influence showcases a strategic agility that is essential in navigating the ever-changing landscape of public relations and brand positioning.
This shift in focus also implies a recognition of the diverse audiences and platforms that play a pivotal role in shaping public perception and discourse.
It highlights the consultants’ astute awareness of the multifaceted nature of contemporary media and the nuanced interplay between figures of influence and the audiences they engage with.
It is evident that Borgli’s film does not fit into the typical romantic comedy genre. In fact, it may be more accurately described as a “horror-com” due to its blend of humor and terror.
As we reflect on the film, we are left with a profound sense of the duality of fame. While it may bring adoration and success, it also has a dark and sinister side.
The movie serves as a poignant reminder that the pursuit of fame and notoriety can come at a great cost. Through its portrayal of the complexities of celebrity, the film prompts us to consider the true nature of fame and the impact it can have on those who seek it.
Without giving away the ending, it is safe to say that Borgli’s work is a thought-provoking exploration of the perils of fame and the toll it takes on individuals.
As one strolls back from the multiplex, it may be an opportune moment to contemplate the often overlooked virtue of obscurity.
In a world where attention is frequently sought after and the pursuit of fame and recognition is fervently pursued, the notion of being unnoticed can be deemed as unimportant or even undesirable.
However, amidst the clamor for attention, there lies a certain beauty in anonymity. The absence of scrutiny and the freedom from the burden of expectations can liberate one’s thoughts and actions.
It provides a space for genuine self-expression, unencumbered by the need to conform to external standards or cater to the demands of an audience.
In the quiet embrace of obscurity, one can find solace in the authenticity of their own existence, liberated from the pressures of performance.
It is in these moments of anonymity that one may discover a sense of true freedom, where the self can unfurl and unfettered by the gaze of others.
Therefore, as one traverses the path homeward, it is worth considering the merits of obscurity and the tranquility it can offer in a world often defined by the clamor of recognition.
The film “Dream Scenario,” distributed by A24, has been assessed and rated R by the Motion Picture Association.
This rating has been attributed to the presence of strong language, violence, and some sexual content within the film.
With a running time of 102 minutes, “Dream Scenario” is a production that aims to captivate and engage audiences.
The rating, while restrictive in nature, serves as a testament to the intense and mature themes explored within the film.
Despite the limitations imposed by the rating, the film has garnered a commendable three stars out of four, indicating a solid and well-received cinematic experience.
As an A24 release, “Dream Scenario” is expected to offer a thought-provoking and compelling narrative, presenting a unique blend of storytelling and visual artistry.
With its R rating, the film promises to deliver a gripping and authentic portrayal of the human experience, unafraid to delve into complex and challenging subject matter.