"Dream Scenario," directed by Tyler MacIntyre, presents a peculiar yet intriguing concept starring Nicolas Cage as Paul Matthews, an unremarkable evolutionary biology professor who inexplicably begins appearing in people's dreams. This odd occurrence quickly catapults Paul into fame, and then infamy, as the dreams he inhabits turn violent. The film, bolstered by the backing of A24 and producers Nicolas Cage and Ari Aster, delves into the surreal territory of accidental fame and the uncontrollable nature of public image.
Nicolas Cage delivers an exceptional performance as Paul, embodying a character unlike his typically eccentric roles. In "Dream Scenario," Cage's portrayal is grounded in the normalcy of Paul's character, resonating with his past role in Spike Jonze's "Adaptation." His character, marked by a mundane existence, becomes the reluctant center of a cultural phenomenon. Cage's nuanced portrayal highlights Paul's innocence, offsetting the bizarre situations he finds himself in.
The film's screenplay, written by Borgli, tackles themes of viral fame and celebrity culture with a satirical edge. While the script is replete with humor and sharp observations, it shies away from delving into the global impact or the reasons behind the sudden change in the nature of the dreams. This lack of exploration leaves certain narrative aspects feeling underdeveloped, despite Cage's compelling performance.
"Dream Scenario" successfully mines humor from its unique premise, particularly in scenes where Paul awkwardly navigates his newfound fame. However, the film's satire often relies on easily recognizable cultural references, sacrificing deeper commentary for surface-level humor. While Borgli's direction ensures a consistent tone of awkwardness, the narrative itself lacks a defining, impactful scene.
The film's supporting cast, including Michael Cera and Dylan Gelula, delivers solid performances, but their characters remain underdeveloped. Julianne Nicholson's portrayal of Paul's wife, Janet, stands out as she represents the only person who truly understands Paul beyond his public persona.
Borgli's direction creates an unsettling atmosphere, enhanced by Benjamin Loeb's cinematography, which captures the film's dreamlike quality through low-angle profile shots. The editing contributes to the film's disorienting tone, with abrupt cuts and ambiguous scenes that blur the line between reality and dreams.
"Dream Scenario" draws inspiration from the real-life phenomenon of "This Man," a sketch that sparked a website where people share dreams featuring a common face. Borgli cleverly places Cage, a well-known cinematic figure, at the center of this concept, exploring themes of collective consciousness and dream manipulation.
In conclusion, "Dream Scenario" is an intriguing film that blends satire and surrealism, anchored by Nicolas Cage's performance. While it succeeds in creating an oddball amusement, the film falls short in delivering a memorable statement, resembling the memes it critiques. It's a film that captures attention with its unusual premise, but ultimately leaves the audience longing for a more impactful narrative.