Never ending his second life in the heart of young, trendy auteurism, Nicolas Cage has just announced the news (always to be taken with a pinch of salt): cinema no longer interests him and, after a last handful of films , the soon-to-be sixty-year-old actor plans to offer his services on the small screen. In the meantime, the man shines once again in a project tailor-made for his appearance as a big lost cat: Dream Scenario , second film by Norwegian Kristoffer Borgli, who had previously signed Sick of Myself (2022), eyeing the of the misanthropic irony of Ruben Östlund.
Same thing here, in this film built around an idea that we take – briefly – pleasure in seeing unfold before our eyes: Paul Matthews, an ordinary university professor, leads a peaceful life with his wife and of his two daughters. In this soul without qualities we can see a cruel lack of recognition which Paul tries to fill by accusing a former student of plagiarism – in vain.
Like a divine intervention, fame soon descended on him in a strange form: first it was his daughter who told him that she had dreamed of him on several occasions. Then a student, then a stranger, and so on, until a crowd of people start dreaming of Paul Matthews, whom everyone recognizes in the street. Dream Scenario first unfolds a seductive device which hunts in the lands of screenwriter and director Charlie Kaufman ( In the Skin of John Malkovich , Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind ), an ingenious tinkerer of drawer scenarios delving into the neurotic psyche of ordinary heroes.
Travel in cancel culture
But, very quickly, the director goes all out to create a “brain film” which laboriously attempts to impress its viewer. Dreams infect reality, and a young agency for atypical celebrities tries to monetize the power of Paul Matthews, whose life changes again the day when, instead of dreams, the man begins to populate everyone’s nightmares. A long descent into hell begins which takes the form of a journey into cancel culture.
The intellectual oneirism of Dream Scenario then becomes the vehicle for little acerbic observations on everything that is wrong in our Western societies: culture of narcissism, capitalist logic which infiltrates even our dreams, human vanity and quarter-hours of celebrity… The scripted car gives birth to a handful of misanthropic banalities and a few formal discoveries which turn out to be hackneyed. Cage, here, is no longer this sublime toy of destiny, but the guinea pig of a story which spends a lot of time making itself more intelligent than it is.
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