The Nic Cage renaissance continues with The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, the eccentric actor’s most meta project to date.
Nicolas Cage is an anomaly in the filmmaking business. One day he could star in one of the most tripe, low-quality releases of the year. The next, he delivers a proper tour-de-force performance as a potential Oscar contender. The man is an absolute feast for the eyes when he’s on form and can genuinely deliver some incredible performances when given the correct project and under the direction of someone who knows how to sculpt his larger than life persona into a competent film. With recent roles in last year’s Pig and 2018’s Mandy, Cage has reinvented himself after a slew of direct-to-video movies that exist solely to pay for his eccentric lifestyle. This is something that Massive Talent takes and runs with.
Cage’s life, career, and even some of his scandals are injected into this story so that it creates a narrative around the absolute lunacy that is this man’s entire being. His co-star Pedro Pascal acts as a rich mega-fan of Cage’s who gets the plot rolling with an odd offer to revitalise the struggling actor’s career. The juxtaposition of these two at the beginning of the film is easily the most exciting dynamic in the entire movie—the developing relationship between the two leads to many twists and turns. Pascal’s character is a wonderfully realised caricature of what fandom and obsession can do to a person, making it a harsh yet undeniably entertaining watch.
The rest of the supporting cast acts as placeholders for the larger story and never really feel like they have much stake or place in the overall narrative. This can be largely attributed to Cage being an absolute powerhouse in this project. He leans into all the cliches and expected strangeness that he is known for and dials it up to eleven. While this is easily the draw for the film, it detracts from everything and everyone else, making the attempted plot and character development for the rest of the supporting cast feel like an unwanted diversion from what we want to see.
Nothing about this film really stands out. The direction at times can feel oddly flat, despite there being some genuinely bizarre situations occurring. It seems Tom Gormican wasn’t sure how far he wanted to take the direction and instead made it feel a little bland at times, so in the end, you’re left wanting something more bombastic.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is an undeniably entertaining and somewhat heartfelt flick that takes the most controversial actor working today and makes him the centrepiece of a lacking story. The movie is best when it is just Cage and Pascal working their magic, but unfortunately, the deviations from that make the entire project sometimes feel lifeless and underwhelming.
At the end of principal photography, the whole cast was gifted a pillow with Nicolas Cage’s face on it – each autographed by himself.