Indie Mempis Film Festival Review: Dream Scenario

Steven McCash reviews the Nicolas Cage-led Dream Scenario, screened as apart of Indie Memphis Film Festival.

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In a movie about a person not at all rememberable with probably the least memorable name, Nicolas Cage makes the audience want to remember Paul Matthews. The Nic Cage renaissance that has been ongoing for some time now continues as it steam rolls itself into 2024 on the back of stellar 2023 performances in Renfield, Sympathy for the Devil and now Dream Scenario. 

Writer Kristoffer Burgle (Sick of Myself) makes his English language directing debut in the Cage led Dream Scenario for A24 by way of Ari Aster’s production company. It’s been 21 years since the Academy Award winning actor took on the role of the unnoticeable nobody Charlie Kaufman in Spike Jonze’s Adaptation and in that time he has taken on a who’s who of characters including a Marvel superhero, numerous ex-cons, NSA whistleblower, and himself. Much like his role in Adaptation, Cage once again buries himself in the role, making it remarkably hard not to want to root for his everyman character.

Paul is a tenured college professor who is a bit unkempt, balding and dresses as if he is trying to camouflage himself from the world noticing him. In the beginning of the movie Paul is in class lecturing about how zebras use their stripes as camouflage not to necessary blend in with nature but to rather vanish into a crowd of other zebras. Natalie Bronfman who has worked as the costume designer on The Handmaid’s Tale took on the task of making one of Hollywood’s most electric personalities and making him look the farthest thing to a leading man. Along with an excellent makeup department the goal was met.

The film takes a weird turn when Paul meets up with an old college friend and she confesses that he has been showing up in her dreams. He’s never the villain or the hero of the dream but instead just a piece of the background. He like in real life does nothing. He’s a loving father to two teenage girls and has a very supportive wife who all love him dearly but would not go as far as to say he’s cool. His coolness factor begins to rise as one person after another begins to come forward saying that he has been showing up in their dreams. Complete strangers from across the globe describe in detail the mundaneness of Paul’s appearance in their nightly visions. 

Comparisons to Adaptation, Being John Malkovich and practically every Wes Anderson film are undeniable but the absurdness of Dream Scenario goes to the next level. As the story of the dreams go viral, Paul embraces the sudden popularity by conducting some national tv commercials and signing up with a marketing firm led by Michael Cera. Matthews, who has long desired to write his own book, decides to use the marketing company for his own gain in order to make that dream come a true. Paul meets an employee of the company who has some rather interesting dreams about him and tries to persuade him to live them out. 

As the movie turns into its final chapter, Paul Matthews has come to learn that he is more than ready for his 15 minutes of fame to come to an end. Borgli’s brilliant script on how brief celebrity can be in todays world with viral celebrities from social media going from unknown to the top of the world back to unknown in the blink of an eye hits its mark. We all have dreamed about being a celebrity through out our lives and how amazing it could be to leave a typical life behind for the limelight but there’s something to appreciate about how nice a simple life can be.

Dream Scenario hits theaters November 10.

Steven McCash is the Lead Music Writer and Utility Man for SoBros Network. Steven is the host of the ‘Drinking With…’ podcast, and the pioneer of New Music Friday, highlighting each week’s new releases in the world of music in addition to the occasional live show review. He also pitches in as a Nashville lifestyle writer and football analyst (hence the ‘Utility Man’ title). Follow on Twitter: @MC_Cash75

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