Nicholas Cage On Being An NPC

17th Dallas International Film Festival

By Alyson Powers

What you find fulfilling in film isn’t necessarily what your parents or children or friends find fulfilling. We might all agree well-written screenplays gift the ability to see obscure life situations from the perspective of anyone, even NPCs. BTW …. do you know the meaning of an NPC? It’s an ever-growing fear, possibly the greatest fear of all decades of all human beings -even if subliminal. The fear of being a friggin NPC!!!! God help us. A non-player character is just a digital, or in personification terms, biological stander by. A no one. A waste of existence. Maybe not a waste because an NPC by definition is a placeholder. Who wants to die from life as a place holder? Is “importance” all that it’s cracked up to be?

A24 produced several eerie films this season. And so a pattern is formed. I don’t know about you, but I’m normally super excited when I see the A appear on screen followed by 24. They are never simple standard and normally full of a higher end of melancholy. Producers designating Dream Scenario as a comedy allow Kristoffer Borgli to write in the second-hand embarrassment format to jog you toward our greatest fear. And it’s his first American project. That’s right NUMERO UNO. His first American film jerks you from a potentially predictable, and boring on any continent, NPC life into imagination.

Julianne Nicholson supports her leading character the best way possible. By giving him strength.

Most of the film is dialogue, shot unremarkably, intentional to be sure, on a page by page from scene to scene and moves you through the story of turmoil and dilemma through facial exclamations. It must have taken Nicholas Cage months to master. Atypical of cage, is a boring, stuffy looking, nuisance of a guy and is magically given layers of interest by his ability to feel so much in his face. Nicholas Cage, also producer, plays Paul Matthews a bland but not wanting to be bland biology teacher at an obscure college. Not to spoil it for you but, unprecedented (and undeserved) fame strike to change all the world of people around him. The casting is a ringer on all counts and all performances keep you engaged. Borgli accomplishes so much with his scene direction, it’s impressive for a new director.

It’s wild to see these formerly handsome actors dress up in middle-age-looking-like-old-age man cardigans and khakis. Beau is Afraid is another A24 shocker with Joaquin Phoenix at it again as a character like you’ve never seen. Know this though, both of these films nail it and I mean NAIL ON POINT the antagonizing feeling of helplessness and hang it on a wall for all to see. The influence of A24 and of producers Lars Knudsen and Ari Aster steeps its normal depth and edgy philosophical psychological weirdness in a rather plain dialogue with a catch-it-if-you-can depth. And for Dream Scenario, it works. All good things come to an end though. At some point the shift toward a finale full of future advancements upstages the dynamic change Paul Matthews endures. Maybe I’m archaic for wanting something more to define this character. Or at least punish his selfishness!
OOps, is that a spoiler?

Can’t wait to see more from Borgli!

15th Dallas International Film Festival