“Nicolas Cage is already someone that is in people’s dreams,” Kristoffer Borgli said in a Q&A following the Montclair Film Festival’s showing off his new film, “Dream Scenario.” If that quote makes zero sense to you, do not worry about it- read on.
With “Dream Scenario,” in addition to his fantastic debut film “Sick of Myself,” Borgli has established himself as an under-appreciated master of dark comedy. With both films, he captures a shockingly solid balance between insane comedic moments and serious themes.
“Dream Scenario” tells the story of a college professor, played by the one and only Nicolas Cage, who ends up appearing randomly in millions of people’s dreams across the world. The film then details what happens as Cage’s character becomes a monetized figure, and eventually details his fall from the good graces of the planet.
As one would expect from a movie with this actor and this wacky plot, Cage goes absolutely insane with his performance, as he is often to do. At the same time, while we do get a ton of the Oscar winner’s infamous goofy faces and voices, he also shows some restraint with his acting, showing the confused nature of this inexplicable event. How would any normal person react to finding out that they suddenly are known by everyone? Would we be overwhelmed? Would we embrace our sudden status as the most well known person on the planet? Cage’s performance reflects every possible reaction. Plus, he’s just funny to watch.
The rest of the film’s supporting cast is also fantastic, specifically Julianne Nicholson, who plays Cage’s wife, who is reluctantly dragged into the limelight with her overzealous husband. She expertly embodies the role, and is definitely the best performance in the film. Michael Cera, Allan himself, shows up as someone trying to monetize Cage due to his newfound celebrity status, and he brings his trademark awkwardly funny energy to every scene. When I watched the film, I did not know he was in it, and when he first appeared everyone in the theater started laughing immediately. I promise I mean that as a compliment.
The rest of the cast is populated by a bunch of smaller roles, and really all of them are good. There was not a single bad performance in the bunch.
What Borgli does so well with the script is striking the perfect balance between the absurdism of the plot and the grounded concepts found within the story. Yes, the idea of Nicolas Cage’s character appearing in every person’s dreams is, at its core, ridiculous, but Borgli deals with the ideas of fame, the corrupting influence of power and the dark side of celebrity status at the same time and he juggles all these topics expertly. He never lets himself get too serious, of course- this is an absurdist comedy flick, after all, but he can maintain a perfect balance between the madcap and the serious, without either overpowering the other.
All this to say, “Dream Scenario” is a fantastic film. It’s a laugh-out-loud riot, it has plenty of heartfelt moments, a tremendously talented cast, and sharp direction. It is one of A24’s best movies, as well as one of the best of the year for sure.
“Dream Scenario” will release in theaters on Nov. 10. Definitely worth checking out!