Sunday, December 3, 2023

Dream Scenario

Writer/director Kristoffer Borgli dives into the ups and downs of fame with the unusual prospect of an unremarkable college professor who begins showing up other people's dreams. Mostly nothing more than an unassuming witness to the dream which otherwise has nothing to do with him, Paul (Nicolas Cage) becomes an immediate celebrity simply for the phenomena he has no control over. However, when his actions in the dreams of others become more explicit and violent the backlash becomes quite real leading to trouble at home, at work, and even attacks made against him.

The sad truth of Paul is he isn't very interesting, in the real world or in dreams, until he starts attacking people in their dreams (some of which we get to see). He's a victim of circumstance who becomes, understandably, increasingly agitated for people blaming him for their own dreams. Cage has been many things over in over four decades but the Dream Scenario allows him the ability to play both victim and perpetrator (albeit an unintentional one). 

As with a film like Being John Malkovich, you are either going to be able to accept the premise and strap in for the ride, or not. If you can, Dream Scenario is a bizarrely fascinating film not only about the odd circumstances Paul finds himself in but how quickly fickle public perception can radically alter how one is viewed in the world and the negative consequences tied to it. It also provides one of the more unexpected performances of Cage's career of the frumpy professor who hopes to turn the situation to his advantage in hopes of leveraging his celebrity for his own collegiate work only to see events turn against him when the dreams turn to nightmares.

The dichotomy of Paul in real life, mild-mannered professor and subservient husband to his wife (Julianne Nicholson), and awkward father to his daughters (Jessica Clement and Lily Bird), versus the dream monster showcased in a handful of clips works quite well. Even if in reality Paul wouldn't hurt a fly, his rage at others actions towards him for their dreams, building on his own resentment of not making more of his career while seeing others prosper, only hurts his cause and public perception. 

Over 102 minutes, the concept of Dream Scenario gets stretched pretty thin, eventually moving into how businesses would make money off of such an concept attempting to market to customers in their dreams. The final act of the film is its weakest as it staggers a bit to the finish line making easy jokes at cancel culture and marketing, but its epilogue does help tie its story together by putting the focus back on Paul, what he's lost, and what he's learned in an experience that while eventually monetized is never truly explained.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: Dream Scenario
  • IMDb: link

No comments: