„Dream Scenario”: Kristoffer Borgli’s Fearless Take on the World’s Absurdities

Norwegian daredevil writer-director Kristoffer Borgli returns with his signature blend of vibrant colors, offbeat humor, and surreal textures in his latest film, “Dream Scenario.” Loosely inspired by both Charlie Kaufman’s “Adaptation” and Carl Jung’s theory of the unconscious, this movie takes viewers on a wild ride through the life changing experiences of Paul (Nicolas Cage).

The film opens with a dream sequence featuring Paul’s younger daughter, immediately establishing the theme of dreams and the unconscious as central to the story. This theme is further presaged in a scene where Paul, a mild-mannered biology professor, lectures his students on zebras and how they blend in with the herd to stay safe, and not to become a target. Borgli’s (usual) penchant for quirky characters with peculiar mannerisms is evident in the professor, who exhibits a socially awkward and insecure demeanor. He is a „gray character”, without real influence or importance, he’d not even start writing the book he dreams of publishing. Nobody wants to compete with him or tries to seduce him (alert: wonderfully witty scenes) because he is not seen as someone significant.

Dream Scenario

Source: IMDB

As the story unfolds, Paul is confronted with a bizarre phenomenon – complete strangers and „long-time-no-see” acquaintances alike report dreaming about him, though he appears as a mere observer in their dream narratives. „He only occupies place in my dreams” as a lady says. But this „strange dream epidemic” triggers a transformation in Paul, who becomes increasingly desperate to capitalize on his newfound popularity. He begins to see himself as a significant figure, no longer content to blend in with the crowd.
Borgli’s skillful direction and Benjamin Loeb’s cinematography create a dream-like atmosphere, with gentle camera movements, slow push-ins, and subtle distortions (fish-eye lens, low angles). These visual flourishes contribute to the film’s surreal tone and amplify the sense of disorientation that Paul experiences, creating almost a „dream within a dream” sensation.

Nicolas Cage delivers a nuanced performance as Paul, deftly navigating the character’s transformation from a meek academic to a self-aggrandizing public figure. Julianne Nicholson provides a strong counterbalance as Paul’s wife, offering a grounded presence amid the increasingly bizarre and nightmarish circumstances. Their duo is simply wonderful together, serving us with a beautiful, moving last scene.

With his signature blend of surreal imagery, Kafkaesque disorientation and grotesque humor, Borgli crafts a thought-provoking and piercingly funny film that is immensely bold. Borgli’s direction is meticulous, with great attention paid to lighting and production design. The dream sequences, in particular, are a testament to his creativity, featuring dynamic off-putting imagery that is both beautiful and disturbing (think: the students’ dreams with alligators, approaching monsters, striking catastrophes, etc.).

“Dream Scenario” is not just a film, but a courageous and thought-provoking commentary on the state of our society. It is a critique of cancel culture, WOKE, celebrity lifestyle, social media advertising, political narratives, and the oftentimes illogical tendencies of modern life. It is not afraid to be controversial. The film encourages viewers to engage in critical thinking and debate, even long after the credits have rolled.

The filmmakers do not shy away from expressing a strong take on the fickle nature of fame and the hollowness of superficial connections either. „Dream Scenario” also takes a critical look at the parasitic nature of the entertainment industry, with agents and executives portrayed as opportunistic and uncaring. The agency representatives in this movie remind viewers of the modeling agency and fashion industry professionals in „Sick of Myself”. It is clear that the young Norwegian auteur is fed up with influencer and celebrity culture that lacks real performance and work.

And for fans of the iconic band Talking Heads, there are some delightful Easter eggs sprinkled throughout the film that are sure to bring a smile to your face. So, if you’re looking for a film that is both entertaining and intellectually stimulating, “Dream Scenario” is definitely worth a watch. Also, you may want to look out for one of the best lines while watching „Biologically speaking, it’s healthy”.

„Dream Scenario” is now playing at theaters.

~ by Dora Endre ~