An endearing, often humorous, yet morbidly dark take on cancel culture, 'Dream Scenario' is the perfect vehicle for Nicolas Cage to showcase his method acting talents while also allowing for his trademark over-the-top performances that have made him a cult figure.Cage portrays Paul Matthews, a balding, paunchy, tenured evolutionary biology professor – an unremarkable nobody – mired in a boring, upper middle class family life whose heightened sense of entitlement believes he should have been published academically by now (he once coined the phrase 'Antelligence' during his study of ant colonies).
As he grapples with a realisation of his own irrelevance, strange occurrences begin to happen that reignite his thirst for (academic) acceptance; first it's his daughter whose dream features Cage nonchalantly raking leaves poolside as random objects drop from the sky. Then it's a hostess who coughs and splutters when Paul dines at her restaurant, amazed the random dude in her dreams is standing before her IRL.
When an old uni flame bumps into him at a theatre show and shares that he's been in her thoughts – as his wife (played superbly by Julianne Nicholson ['Mare Of Easttown' 'I, Tonya']) docilely stands by but obviously somewhat peeved at her husband's newfound notoriety – and wants to interview him for her blog, Paul (his ego stroked) readily agrees.
It's not long before Paul goes 'dream' viral with literally millions of people globally having their dreams invaded by him (usually he's a passive observer of some truly warped and terrifying dream sequences; Nic casually munching on a tropical-looking mushroom-fruit whilst the dreamer is attacked by a blood-covered fiend is peak Cage).
After his academic anonymity, Paul revels in his 15 minutes of fame, as he's lavished with media attention (first by local TV before national networks beat a path to his door) as the peculiar phenomenon makes him an instant celebrity courted by a millennial marketing agency (featuring Michael Cera who captures perfectly the soul-less integrity of marketeers) who want to pair him with major corporate brands.
However, almost as soon as he's become a worldwide personality people's dreams take a menacing, violent, homicidal turn and Paul finds himself increasingly affected by cancel culture – that's aided by his own destructive desire to hold on to his notoriety no matter the cost (this also leads to perhaps the funniest-saddest sex scene in cinematic history).
"I felt that I had the life experience to play this character in terms of being someone who's in the public eye, and who's gone up and down in how I'm perceived," Cage says. "People know a lot of things about me, and the role was a great vessel to channel those memories, experiences and feelings."
Fans of 'Succession' will be over-joyed when Nicholas Braun (Greg) makes a brief appearance as a Bill Gates-esque character who develops the Norio, a LED-styled device (picture those Coldplay concert wristbands) that allows users to enter other people's dreams (without their permission; it sounds as weird and creepy as it is).
An observation of one person's descent into a fully-blown midlife crisis, 'Dream Scenario' also paints a vivid image of the stark realities all individuals must face as the twilight years descend and a lifetime's toil amounts to very little: emotional, financial or spiritual.