Film Review: DREAM SCENARIO (2023): Kristoffer Borgli’s Fascinating and Wildly Unusual Film Offers Nicolas Cage at His Best


Nicolas Cage Julianne Nicholson Dream Scenario

Dream Scenario Review

Dream Scenario (2023) Film Review, a movie written and directed by Kristoffer Borgli and starring Nicolas Cage, Julianne Nicholson, Michael Cera, Jessica Clement, Lily Bird, Star Slade, David Klein, Kaleb Horn, Liz Adjei, Paula Boudreau, Marnie McPhail, Noah Lamanna, Tim Meadows, Dylan Baker, Maev Beaty, Marc Coppola, Krista Bridges and Dylan Gelula.

Kristoffer Borgli’s new dark comedy, Dream Scenario, is a horror movie in the sense that what is suggested in the film is absolutely frightening. There aren’t a lot of terrifying situations based on the picture’s reality that occur in the movie but it’s the thought of the crazy premise the film employs that will give people a sense of dread in their every day lives. Nicolas Cage stars (in his best performance since Pig) as a college professor named Paul Matthews, a bald, every day, older middle-aged man who appears in people’s dreams for no particular reason. Even after seeing Dream Scenario, the viewer won’t fully understand why the plot in it unfolds as it does. Borgli’s film is unique, creative and mystifying. It also features a top-notch performance from Julianne Nicholson as Paul’s wife, Janet.



As the film’s main story begins, Paul is recognized by the hostess of a restaurant (Liz Adjei) but they seem to have never actually met before. Paul is also approached by his ex-girlfriend, Claire (Marnie McPhail) at a show he’s attending with his wife. Claire wants his phone number and when Paul puts it in her phone, she notices he’s taken his wife’s last name. Paul is somewhat awkward. He has aspirations to write a book but many of his ideas remain in his mind rather than on paper. Paul is an ordinary looking man who frequently wears a fairly heavy winter coat. He doesn’t look like anybody who someone would want to look at but he’s in people’s dreams and the people who dream of him make him fully aware of this fact.

The best scenes of Dream Scenario involve a 26-year old named Molly (Dylan Gelula) who has a dream about Paul. She works for a company that wants to collaborate with Paul, She says she dreams of Paul touching her and them having sex together. When this situation comes close to happening, Paul prematurely ejaculates and farts before anything happens. So, the dream and the reality are quite the opposite. Gelula’s performance is outstanding in a relatively minor role that the actress succeeds in tremendously, adding a distinct quality to the role that is intriguing to watch. Also in the movie is Michael Cera who is fine as a company representative named Trent who wants Paul to work with Sprite which plans on launching a campaign around the man of everyone’s dreams, Paul.

Things get heavy-handed as, all of a sudden, people become frightened by Paul. There’s backlash about the guy and nobody seems to want him around. People spray paint the word, “LOSER” on his car and his relationship with his wife is jeopardized. That’s probably about all the plot you need to know because what’s interesting about Dream Scenario is how it captivates its audience thanks to the performance which Cage turns in within the picture. Cage takes this role and relishes every moment of its peculiarities. Cage makes us sympathize with his predicament as Paul’s life is turned upside down and inside out leading to one of his daughters saying she’s going to have to kill herself after Paul tries to make an apology for what is happening but fails miserably at being successful at it.

Julianne Nicholson is amazing here. Why Nicholson didn’t get nominated for Blonde last year is a mystery but she deserves consideration this year as well for Best Supporting Actress. As the suffering wife who has to endure the wrath of the consequences of Paul’s 15 minutes of fame, Nicholson not only adds emotional depth and range but will have the audience wondering what the best decision is for her to make regarding her marriage to Paul.

Ari Aster could have directed this movie but I’m glad he didn’t even though he was behind the scenes of it. Aster is really good at horror but still perfecting the quirkier type of dramatic movie. Borgli makes some creative choices that are more accessible to audiences than they may have been in Aster’s hands. These decisions, in turn, give the movie some emotional clarity whereas Aster’s movies tend to be more drastic and blunt. Such scenes that Borgli succeeds at are one where Cage’s Paul shows up to see his daughter’s show at school but the school has forbidden him to come see the daughter’s performance. Paul gets into trouble and the movie doesn’t go over-the-top. Instead, it makes us understand the plight of Paul and the horrifying aftermath of his unfortunate fame and attempt to be there for his daughter. In Aster’s Beau is Afraid, it was much harder to sympathize with Joaquin Phoenix’s character but in Dream Scenario, it is easy to see Paul’s internal suffering and this may also be thanks to a great Cage performance.

Dream Scenario has even more terrific supporting players on board like Paula Boudreau, Tim Meadows and Dylan Baker. All do solid work. Boudreau has an early scene with Cage that is fantastic and gives the audience insight on Paul’s career goals. Meadows, as Paul’s boss, is effective and Baker is, as always, intriguing as the friend who invites Paul and Janet to dinner but must end the get-together prematurely.

What if a man experienced accidental fame through no choice of his own and it came back to destroy his life and those close to him? That’s the frightening premise employed in the smart Dream Scenario and it is certainly a well-conceived story line. Not everything that happens makes total sense but it’s an enjoyable, bizarre movie nevertheless. This is an above average picture with fine acting, especially by the always versatile Cage who is definitely deserving of an Oscar nomination for this performance. By the film’s end, you’ll feel sorry for Paul and may just hope he gets a break one day.

Rating: 9/10

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