Our man of many movies, Mark Kermode, is here for his take on the odd fantasy film Dream Scenario. You can watch his thoughts above.
And what did we think here at SFcrowsnest Towers? Well, in a world where Facebook stalking and viral marketing meet in a bizarre, dreamy concoction, Dream Scenario emerges as a black comedy fantasy that makes Inception look like a straightforward bedtime story. Directed by Kristoffer Borgli, this cinematic oddball stars Nicolas Cage, who, let’s face it, is the patron saint of quirky film roles. The film also features Julianne Nicholson, Michael Cera (yes, that awkwardly charming guy from Superbad), and a host of other talents who probably never imagined they’d be in a film quite like this.
The plot? Oh, it’s a doozy. Picture this: Paul Matthews, a biology professor played by Cage, suddenly starts popping up in the dreams of people around him. It’s like Facebook but in your subconscious. His journalist ex-girlfriend, smelling a story that’s more buzz-worthy than a beehive, writes an article about this phenomenon and tags his Facebook profile. Because, why not? This leads to a global realization that Paul is the unwitting star of people’s dreams. Talk about viral fame, but with more REM cycles. Initially, Paul basks in this bizarre spotlight. Who wouldn’t enjoy being the man of the hour in the global dream stage? But soon, the dream turns sour. Paul isn’t exactly the action hero of these dreams. Instead, he’s depicted as passive and, well, pretty dull. That’s gotta sting a bit.
Things take a darker turn when a mentally ill man breaks into Paul’s house to kill him, having seen him in his dreams. In response, Paul does the most logical thing – he signs up with a PR firm. Because that’s what you do when dream-stalkers come for you, right? Following this, an assistant confesses she’s had erotic dreams about Paul, and they try to reenact it. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t go well.
The plot thickens as Paul’s presence in dreams evolves from passive to actively violent and hateful, wreaking havoc on his career and personal life. He becomes confrontational, his family life crumbles, and he even gets barred from his daughter’s school play (which, to be fair, might be a blessing in disguise, depending on the play).
Fast forward, and the dreams have stopped, but not before inspiring the invention of dream-traveling technology, primarily used for – wait for it – advertising. Because what’s a little invasion of subconscious privacy among capitalists? Poor Paul, now separated from his wife and on a mediocre book tour in France, uses this technology to heroically (and bizarrely) save his wife in her dreams. Dream Scenario debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival, and critics are eating it up like popcorn at a Cage film festival. It’s got a high score on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, because who doesn’t love a film that combines surreal dreams with the cringe-worthy reality of viral fame?
At its core, Dream Scenario is a wild ride through the landscape of pop culture, social media, and the human psyche. It’s like going on a blind date with your subconscious and finding out it’s obsessed with Nicolas Cage. So, mark your calendars for November 10, 2023, because this is one dream you don’t want to sleep through.