A24 has made a name for itself over the past decade giving audiences some of the strangest moviegoing experiences available – which is also something that can be said about much of Nicolas Cage’s career. The two have joined forces for Dream Scenario, which sees professor Paul Matthews (Cage) become an overnight celebrity when he starts appearing in people’s dreams. The movie, which was written and directed by Kristoffer Borgli, made its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, where CinemaBlend’s Sean O’Connell called it “a revelation.”
If Nic Cage appearing in an A24 comedy isn’t enough to get movie-lovers excited, throw in the fact that Ari Aster is one of the producers, and there’s no mystery why people are already looking forward to Dream Scenario hitting theaters in November. Until then, though, we can get hyped by the buzz for the upcoming A24 movie –starting with Sean O’Connell, who says it's one of Cage’s best performances ever and his current favorite film from TIFF 2023. He continues:
The main takeaway, though, is Cage, who hasn’t been this impressive with his acting since Pig. And even here, it’s more of a gamble to turn himself over to the lunacy powering Dream Scenario. But Cage has plenty of experience tightrope walking across a bizarre premise, and even finding ways to ground the illusion so we find a stronger buy in.
Peter Debruge of Variety says that of Nicolas Cage’s more than 100 credits, his newest offering ranks among the highest. In the critic’s words:
Borgli takes this surrealist premise and approaches it with a tone that’s a singular mix of comedic and sinister. Is this a fantasy? A fable? A new kind of horror movie? Actually, Dream Scenario is all of the above and then some, for it also shares a certain postmodern DNA with two of Cage’s most boundary-pushing movies, Adaptation and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.
David Ehrlich of IndieWire gives the movie a grade of B+, saying Nicolas Cage’s character's experience is a novelty, then a blessing and then inevitably a nightmare. The statement on cancel culture comes with the message that you can’t control how other people see you in their heads. Ehrlich writes:
Considering how inevitable it becomes that Dream Scenario will veer toward cancel culture in its third act, it’s a shame that Borgli struggles to have more fun with that part of Paul’s trajectory. His imagination dries up a bit as the worm starts to turn on the professor’s fame, and while the film’s basic conceit offers an ultra-lucid expression of how it might feel to be shunned by strangers for something you feel like you didn’t even do…, this last stretch of the story is far too earthbound to land with the same absurdist force as the rest of it.
Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter says Nicolas Cage has never been funnier than in Dream Scenario, giving a master class in comic acting even while Kristoffer Borgli’s dark social satire skewers social media influencers and cancel culture. According to Rechtshaffen:
While on the subject of dreams, Cage and Borgli make for a comedy dream team, spurring each other on to edgier extremes while never losing sight of the cautionary target at which the film so wickedly takes aim. Also serving as his own editor, Borgli keeps the crazy energy percolating with playful jump cuts and soundbite-sized flashbacks, as the filmed-in-Toronto production finds a unifying constant in the seemingly steady snowfall seen outside every window. But mainly you’ll be unable to take your eyes off Cage, whose self-pitying nebbish trying to wrestle an ounce of control back into his runaway existence is pure comedy gold.
Martin Aubert Tsai of The Wrap says Nic Cage has attached himself to another inspired film destined for cult status. Tsai agrees with other critics that the actor gives an overall dialed-down performance, which adds weight to his character’s more animated moments. The critic says:
Although its internal logic and messaging are at times muddled and not fully formed, Dream Scenario still proves immensely entertaining. It’s always exciting to see a film when you have not the slightest clue where it is going to go. With this movie, Borgli firmly establishes himself as an exciting talent to watch.
Charles Bramesco of The Guardian rates Dream Scenario 4 stars out of 5, positing that in Nicolas Cage’s career of wild characters, this project gives him a different challenge to conquer – which is portraying a decidedly “normal” man. Bramesco writes:
Splitting the difference between tragedy and satire, Borgli takes this educated fool as a symptom of an ugliness in modern times, fitting from a film-maker whose last feature followed a woman rotting the skin off of her body for clout. Here, the deformities are those of character, a moral slippage that doubles as a warning softened by the ludicrous levities. No one can thrive when they’re living for exposure.
With the combination of Nicolas Cage, A24 and Kristoffer Borgli — not to mention Ari Aster as a producer — Dream Scenario is likely going to be too intriguing for movie fans to pass up, so it’s good to see that critics have good things to say. We still have a while before this one hits theaters on November 10, so be sure to peek at our 2023 movie release schedule to see what else is hitting the big screen in the meantime or check out some of A24’s best offerings.