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The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

"a film about why we love film. Bravo"

★★★★ - STUFF 

- A truly inspired celebration of Nic Cage - 

Was it just the other day that I claimed Everything Everywhere All At Once was going to be the most fun you would have in a cinema in 2022?

No matter how often I get brought down by my own hubris, the gods usually give me more than a couple of nights before they make me look like a babbling idiot.

But, especially if you happen to be a Nicolas Cage fan – it's just that The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is possibly an even funnier and more engaging film than Everything. And though it is only April, I'm pretty sure that it'll be joining Drive My Car and Memoria on yours truly’s Top10 of 2022 when the end of the year rolls around. If they haven't sacked me by then for making wild predictions and writing impossibly long and irrelevant preambles to film reviews.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent stars Nic Cage as a man called Nick Cage. He's a once-wildly popular actor and action hero who has fallen on bad times via his compulsion to live like a major star, even though he is no longer earning like one.

A meeting with his agent yields only an offer of a paid appearance at the birthday party of a wealthy arms dealer. Who may be even more of a criminal than the usual codes of conduct of arms dealing would allow.

Cage travels to Mallorca and into the dreams of this superfan, with only a couple of CIA agents and then his ex-wife and teenage daughter to step in and help if the situation should become just too weird. Which, naturally, it will.

An unexpected friendship develops between the two men, even as Cage is told that his host is a kidnapper and terrorist, giving this film exactly the emotional heart of a classic schlock thriller. Which is the point. This film about Nicolas Cage must become a “Nicolas Cage Film”, or the joke cannot end.

Once the two men start collaborating on a screenplay, the path that will take us to the end credits comes into focus.

Also, it feels like only in the last few years have I known what “meta” even means. And now I seem to need to use the word every damn week.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent could have been a disaster. The conceit – to wed a Being John Malkovich-style experiment to a plot that eventually must also function as a watchable Nicolas Cage action movie – is bold. Cage apparently turned the film down several times – and this is the same man who said “yes” to Willy's Wonderland.

Unbearable works because it understands the audience's relationship with Cage and why we love him so much. It gets to the core of the truth that there is no such thing any more as a “bad” Nicolas Cage film.

Because Cage will always give a role everything he has, will always deliver the most unlikely of lines as though he is alone in a desert with no one to hear him scream, will always commit to and believe in the most benighted of projects – and by doing so he completely transcends any ideas about “good” and “bad” acting. He is simply being perfect at being Nicolas Cage.

And writer-director Tom Gormican (That Awkward Moment) clearly gets his quality. Just as the makers of Being John Malkovich understood it and Mabrouk El Mechri and his team understood Jean Claude Van Damme when they wrote JCVD – another film to which Unbearable owes a debt.

With a scene-stealing Pedro Pascal, Tiffany Haddish, Neil Patrick Harris and the brilliant Sharon Horgan on the bench, Gormican is not short of charisma and talent here. But Cage is the reason this film even exists. That, and maybe to revitalise the Paddington 2 fan-club.

Very few actors could stand this level of mythologising and still deliver an even faintly credible or likeable performance. But Cage can and does.

What Gormican taps into, and what Cage delivers, makes The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent into something special. It is a film about why we love film. Bravo.

- Graeme Tuckett, STUFF

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is now playing at Light House Cinema!


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