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TIFF 2023: DREAM SCENARIO Is An Absurdist Dramady With The Best Nic Cage Performance In Years!

Nicolas Cage has recently, in the past few years, become associated with quirky oddball choices in bizarre and ‘out there’ movies. There’s probably a whole generation of audiences who know him only as ‘that guy’ in all the outrageous, low-budget and weird movies. But as I’ll discuss in this Dream Scenario review, this a Nic Cage performance that harkens back to the era of his consistently critically acclaimed performances. Not to mention that Oscar. Read on for why Dream Scenario is a must-watch!

One Of The Best Movies At TIFF 2023

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Dream Scenario is all about Paul Matthews (Nic Cage), an unassuming, simple and almost boring professor who yearns for more out of life. Without actually knowing how to get it. A family man, with a loving wife and two daughters, Paul seemingly has everything he wants. But a strange phenomenon occurs, where he starts showing up in people’s dreams. Random people. Initially, these are innocent but inexplicable encounters. But they slowly begin to escalate. Without any action or input from Paul himself. People are just dreaming about him. He’s not actively doing anything. In real life, or even in the dreams themselves.

But this is where Dream Scenario becomes a cultural exploration of contemporary concepts of political correctness, being mindful of others’ feelings and what is generally known as ‘cancel culture’. Society at large begins to hold Paul accountable for some of the more questionable things that are happening inside people’s dreams. Even though he’s not actually doing anything to cause or exasperate them himself. His life becomes difficult, his relationships turn sour, and all because of a phenomenon he can’t control or explain.

Dream Scenario Is Nic Cage’s Best Performance In Years

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While Dream Scenario at its core is an analysis of PC culture, or the landmine of cultural sensitivities that everyone must be aware of, it’s so much more. It’s a commentary that doesn’t go too hard on making a statement. The outrageous premise and the even more ridiculous situations that follow are hilarious. But also painfully cringe. While at the same time, they are just downright tragic. Writer and director Kristoffer Borgli is able to make fun of these important topics, while still saying something about them, and also making us feel for the characters suffering through them. It’s the most difficult tightrope of concepts, written and executed to perfection.

But none of it works without the absolute straight-man performance by Cage. This is Cage at his absolute best! Audiences may forget the range that Cage has to offer, given his choices in the last several years, but Dream Scenario proves the depth that Cage has always had. Cage plays Paul as the one reacting to the insanity unfolding around him. Paul is this awkward, bitter and petty man who only finds his voice when it’s too late to do anything about his life. Cage is absolutely amazing in a role that any other actor might not have been able to hit as hard. He’s hilarious, embarrassing and just straight-up demented. But all to serve the larger story at play, never becoming the sole focus himself.

Dream Scenario Review Is Spoiler-Free

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Dream Scenario is a lot of things, most among them showcasing an incredible Nic Cage performance. But it’s also one of the funnier movies coming out of TIFF 2023. The humour is derived from the absolutely bonkers premise and the even more outrageous situations that arise from it. Those beats are played for comedy, while there’s a more sadder undertone to them as well. And other times, it’s just straight-up awkward and uncomfortable. I can’t go any further in this Dream Scenario review without spoilers, but the movie overall is a must-watch.

Dream Scenario premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival 2023.

For more reviews from TIFF, subscribe to The Movie Blog and follow me on X (Twitter) at @theshahshahid for continued TIFF ‘23 coverage.

TIFF 2023: DREAM SCENARIO Is An Absurdist Dramady With The Best Nic Cage Performance In Years!
  • Acting - 8.5/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 8.5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 10/10
  • Setting/Theme - 7.5/10
  • Watchability - 10/10
  • Rewatchability - 8/10
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