COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 42min
STARRING: Nicolas Cage, Julianne Nicholson
As biology professor Paul Matthews, peacefully married for 15 years (to Nicholson’s Everywoman, Janet), Nicolas Cage sinks into self-effacement like a squelch into mud. Paul would be the essence of vin ordinaire — if only he didn’t keep popping up in random people’s disturbing dreams.
In these fabulously strange flights of fancy from writer-director Kristoffer Borgli (Sick of Myself ), the professor is present and yet not, an indifferent observer of the dreamer’s terrible peril. As the bizarre phenomenon blows up on social media, the once barely visible man at the centre of the action is flattered at first by his students’ awed attention. Why wouldn’t he be? Adulation is addictive. But the problem with mass fascination, as many A- to Z-list celebrities have learned to their cost, is that you can’t turn it off, especially when the collective subconscious is at the controls.
And so it goes that when the dreams devolve into barbaric nightmares, “kind, loving, harmless” Paul is ostracised as a maniac, Janet has had enough, their teenage daughters (Lily Bird and Jessica Clement) are reeling from the pressure and Paul has a nightmare starring himself.
Barring Michael Cera as a marketing gasbag, Borgli’s sense of comedy is more nihilistic trip than light fantastic. This mood board is a win-win for Cage, who gets to go postal in the land of nod while melting into a weepy mess in the waking world. But for the cursed professor, the duality could hardly be more dire. His double act of night and day is a tightrope waiting to snap.