Review of Dream Scenario

Dream Scenario
Dream Scenario
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Dream Scenario is led by Nicolas Cage, who has already become a meme. (However, there are also reports that Adam Sandler was once involved.) But in Norwegian writer-director Kristoffer Borgli’s third feature, Paul Matthews (Cage) isn’t an Oscar-winning actor from the outset. He’s just a regular guy (although he actually is a biology professor with tenure) whose life suddenly changes drastically when other people start seeing him in their dreams without his knowledge.

Borgli’s previous film Sick of Myself centered on the story of a woman who voluntarily disfigures herself to win sympathies thinking all attention is good attention, and Dream Scenario takes on the ridiculousness of internet-fueled celebrity as well. Paul didn’t seek fame or popularity whatsoever. In fact, most times he appears in these dreams as merely an observer or bystander. However, he will have to be adulated and condemned as he goes through this journey- from being social media famous to an international outcast when his presence in everyone’s collective unconscious begins feeling sinister- again not because of anything he did.

This obviously leads to some satirizing or rather criticizing “cancel culture” whereby apparent harm equals real violence. This time Paul becomes an imperfect avatar; usually something like this happens in real life where they have said at least something even if not done anything but such a person might still be refused entry into restaurants and get their car defaced due to one action they took publicly before. Finally, such insensitive comments are only ever sexist which further enables subtle male bashing.

The cruelest words are reserved for both the marketing firm that hires Paul to put Sprite ads into the collective unconscious and the dreamfluencers who leverage it for branding deals. The first half of Dream Scenario benefits from some excellent screenwriting — I believe it came from Borgli too — which manages to convey biting satire while still maintaining everyday speech patterns. However, this gradual boiling only brings us about three-quarters of the way through the film before we reach an ending that is split into two parts with too many ideas.

The humor in Dream Scenario is almost entirely matter-of-fact cringe comedy, carried out by among others a supporting cast like Tim Meadows, Michael Cera, Kate Berlant, Dylan Gelula, and Nicholas Braun. Julianne Nicholson also plays the role of Paul’s wife Janet Matthews as the straight woman whose reputation and career suffer due to being associated with her husband. This characterisation is second to Lily Bird who plays one of his daughters along with Jessica Clement; these roles serve as collateral so that he has something to lose which is okay.

For example, Borgli’s filmmaking places Dream Scenario in an identifiable depiction of upper-middle-class East Coast academia as it gradually amps up the film into more surreal nightmare territory than it already was through clear-cut dream sequences into the “real world.” Similarly, Cage’s whining and hunched acting adjusts according to this view as he stalks through other people’s dreams like some giant ape-man with big swinging arms and a vacant expression on his face.


A sharp screenplay and subtly surreal filmmaking propel this provocative cringe comedy, with Nicolas Cage standing in for all ‘canceled’ men. However, the movie begins to drift by the end, although it does have a lot to say about fame and its consequences in today’s world of social media.

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