No matter what he does, Nicolas Cage has a captivating presence. You can always count on a fun time at the movies, regardless of whether you’re seeing an Oscar-winning film, riding a motorcycle with your head on fire, or switching faces with John Travolta. Dream Scenario, written and directed by Kristoffer Borgli, is the ideal vehicle for Nicolas Cage; it’s uncannily funny and incredibly moving. And Cage revels in this bouquet of hallucinations, spinning around like a flaming dervish in this vicious critique of all that our digital lives have come to mean, from memes and cancel culture to viral videos and online business promotion.
When Paul Matthews (Cage) discusses evolutionary biology and the origins of zebra stripes, his students’ eyes glaze away. Matthews is an unassuming college lecturer. He doesn’t leave much of an effect at home either, since his daughters Sophie (Lily Bird) and Hannah (Jessica Clement) ignore him and his wife Janet (Julianne Nicholson) kindly tolerates his neuroses.
When he runs into his ex-girlfriend Claire (Marnie McPhail), she tells him she has been dreaming about him, and that’s when everything changes. Like in real life, Paul is a watchful observer in his dreams. Paul discovers he is a part of everyone’s dreams when Claire writes about the occurrence and connects the piece to Paul’s social media accounts. He always appears as a detached onlooker, slipping in and out of frame.
All of a sudden, Paul is the talk of the town; his courses are full, his kids think well of him, he becomes more respected at Janet’s job, and his former coworkers, who had shunned him, now ask him to elegant dinners. Paul takes pleasure in the attention. However, Paul learns a little about the drawbacks of celebrity when a mentally unstable guy attempts to harm him at home.
Paul meets with a viral marketing business, but the meeting goes south. The firm wants to collaborate with him on a soft drink ad campaign, but Paul wants them to find a publisher for a book he has been meaning to write for ages. Paul’s dream avatar abruptly and mysteriously turns aggressive after an awkward interaction with a marketing agency helper, which makes people savagely turn against him.
The movie adheres to dream logic’s norms, which include accepting irrational ideas, warped perspective, vibrant or washed-out colors, and the binning of physical laws. Paul’s predicament is terrifyingly real, and he has no control over his violent doppelgänger’s actions—just as he had no say in breaking into random people’s dreams.
We can sympathize with Paul for defying the court of public opinion when Janet instructs him to apologize or leave the children’s play, especially since it is a response to something he cannot control.
Dream Scenario is a somber and eerie commentary on our times that is unsettling yet vital to witness. Of course, you may just enjoy Cage’s explosive performance if you’re not in the mood for a lecture on digital Darwinism.
Right now, Dream Scenario is playing in theaters. See the video on Youtube.