Dream Scenario | TIFF 2023 | Review by: Benjamin Garrett
Dream Scenario takes a seemingly simple concept and runs with it, taking it to thought provoking and unexpected depths. It’s a nightmarish and utterly hilarious venture into collective dream-space, serving as a biting cautionary tale surrounding fame and cancel culture.
In reality, celebrities are “canceled” as a result of their own actions or words. I won’t go into whether or not it’s always justified, but there’s always a catalyst that leads to the collapse of their stardom. What if you had no control over the catalyst, though? What if the catalyst was never real in the first place? The premise of one man constantly appearing in thousands of people’s dreams might sound funny, but the implications and fallout are actually quite frightening.
Dream Scenario walks a fine line between absurdist comedy and horror, keeping both in equal balance throughout. It’s one of the funniest films I’ve seen all year, but behind the laughter I felt a constant unease, watching this man’s life uprooted and dissected because of something he had no control over. The snippets of various dreams we do see are portrayed beautifully, capturing the illogical and ethereal nature of dreaming extremely well. This is especially true once those dreams turn to nightmares.
Much of the comedy comes from the waking world, and how Nic Cage reacts and adapts to his newfound fame. His performance gives us nice a mix of the various Cages we’ve gotten through the years. A little bit of rage Cage, a little bit of earnest family man Cage, and everything in between. The supporting cast is great too, and the way they each handle his situation is fascinating to watch. The dynamics between his wife and two daughters is quite funny, but also a little heartbreaking as his situation escalates.
Dream Scenario deftly blends comedy with surrealist horror. Through Cage’s stellar performance, insightful social commentary and the gorgeous visualization of nightmarish dreamscapes, it makes the most out of its seemingly ridiculous premise.