The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Review | Nicolas Cage leaves a lasting impression in ‘Dream Scenario’

“Dream Scenario,” the latest from writer and director Kristoffer Borgli, puts a unique spin on a real-world phenomenon.
FilmScene+at+the+Chauncey+is+seen+in+Iowa+City+on+Monday%2C+Nov.+6%2C+2023.+
Isabella Tisdale
FilmScene at the Chauncey is seen in Iowa City on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023.

Based on the trailer alone, “Dream Scenario” was thought to be one of A24’s more divisive films of the year. However, the unique concept managed to win over its viewers.

As the first big-screen production from Norwegian director Kristoffer Borgli, the film, produced by Ari Aster, adopted a unique concept in which Nicolas Cage’s character, Paul Matthews, begins appearing in everyone’s dreams — a mysterious, medically inexplicable phenomenon that drives the rest of the film.

Cage does an exemplary job with his performance in this film. He uses extremely minor facial expressions and tonal shifts that perfectly convey his character as being a middle-of-the-road guy who has nothing overtly interesting going on.

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The concept of this piece is closely tied to a real phenomenon that has existed within conspiracy culture for some time now: The website that initially published the “Ever Dream This Man?” article, featuring an image of a plain, nondescript, balding man, reached over 3,000 people claiming to have also seen the individual in their dreams.

Since 2006, random individuals from various backgrounds claim to have seen the face of the same person in their dreams. 

The film mixed visual and audible elements — like montages to depict a dream sequence narrated by the owner of the dream — to underscore the absurdity of the phenomenon. Moments like these completely captivated me. 

But Paul’s passivity was one of the major highlights of the film, introducing a comedic aspect to the eerie concept whenever the character had a moment of insecurity or nervousness while inquiring about others’ dreams.

On that note, Michael Cera’s character, the business-savvy Kent, naturally brought even more comedic relief. Though not a significant role, Cera’s character tries to commercialize Paul’s dream phenomenon, suggesting ways for him to advertise products within other’s dreams. 

While “Dream Scenario” didn’t necessarily have extremely high or low points, it managed to stay entertaining throughout the very short runtime and kept me satisfied with its execution. Though much less divisive, it is sure to be yet another trophy for A24 to put in its case.

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About the Contributors
Caden Gantenbein, Arts Reporter
he/him/his
Caden Gantenbein is a screenwriting major as well as a film minor. He is a junior starting this fall and this is his first semester at the DI.
Isabella Tisdale, Photojournalist
(she/her)
Isabella Tisdale is a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan and is a senior at West High school. In her free time, she stage manages for the theater program at West High. She plans to double major in political science and journalism.