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Updated: Mar 25

Unlike most other films that dream up an out-there premise, Dream Scenario cleverly follows through on its timely themes and brooding atmosphere, all held together by a magnificent Nicolas Cage.

There are multiple times in Dream Scenario when you think the film surely must crumble under the weight of its own cleverness. But by juggling sly, darkly funny entertainment with a deft parable about cancel culture the picture finds a winning path towards a finale that resonates emotionally.

Central in the narrative is Nicolas Cage’s tenured college professor, who out of nowhere starts popping up in other people’s dreams. Initially he enjoys his sudden fame, but when his dreamworld alter ego starts doing unspeakable things to others, his life quickly becomes a nightmare.

Not only does Dream Scenario dissect today’s cancel culture extremes with a though-provoking, balanced clarity, it opts for a visual and narrative style that at times recalls the eighties works of one prominent director who experienced cancel culture first-hand: Woody Allen.

I was especially impressed by how the film starts out as a fun, eccentric comedy but gradually gets darker, until you reach a point where reality, dreams and nightmares start to blend together, tipping you off-balance ever further as you uneasily shuffle on your movie theatre seat.

Though one final act deus ex machina annoyingly jars, Dream Scenario mostly sticks its landing, in part because Nicolas Cage, in his best, most rewarding role since Adaptation, finds a wonderful balance between his character’s frustrations and the humane, relatable hope that – in spite of fate conspiring against him – all may still be well.

release: 2023

director: Kristoffer Borgli

starring: Nicolas Cage, Julianne Nicholson, Michael Cera, Dylan Gelula


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