The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent: A Review

I have always had a soft spot for Nicholas Cage. Although the man is a living meme – search for “Cage rage” – he has starred in some amazing films. Mandy (2018), while not as well known as many of his other projects, is my personal favourite. So when The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was announced I pencilled the release date into my diary even though the trailer posed more questions than it answered.

I don’t want to spoil too much of the plot – it relies heavily on surprises and twists and describing them in any detail would make the film a lot less fun to watch. So really, if this film intrigues you at all, I’d advise you to not bother with reviews (including this one) and to get yourself to your nearest cinema immediately.

Incidentally, I saw the film at one of The Barbican’s cinemas. Even if the prospect of seeing a Nicholas Cage film does not fill your heart with joy, I’d urge you to pay the site a visit if you’re in the area. Like Cage, brutalist architecture isn’t for everyone, but it’s not every day you get to feel like you’ve walked into a dystopian J.G. Ballard novel.

Anyway. The film. Nicholas Cage plays a fictionalized version of himself: actor sees himself confronted with a dying career, a bad relationship with his daughter, and a general sense of not knowing what to do with himself. When he finds himself invited to a billionaire’s birthday party he is tempted by the hefty fee his host is prepared to pay. But of course things aren’t quite what they seem. If they were this would be a short and boring film.

Although relatively short compared to the mammoth films Hollywood currently likes to release – Dune, I’m looking at you – The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is certainly not boring. It’s fast-paced, funny, and has just the right amount of postmodern meta-ness to probe intellectual sensibilities. Although, to be honest, this is more entertainment and less intellectualism. Fine by me.

Parts of the film are decidedly bonkers. The crew must have had a lot of fun filming those. The plot gently pokes fun at celebrity culture, Hollywood, and Cage’s own persona. Sarcastic or truly satirical it is not, and some might wish for a more biting approach, but I quite like the film the way it is. Judging from the loud snickering of my fellow cinemagoers I’m not alone in this.

Although most of the attention goes to Cage himself, for obvious reasons, the rest of the cast deserves to be commended for their performance. Pedro Pascal does a particularly good job and the film is worth watching for his chemistry with Cage alone.

This film, in short, is not for everyone. Some may not like the ridiculous plot, the idea of Cage playing himself, or the prospect of sitting through a Cage film in the first place. But if you’re looking for an entertaining film with just a little bit of quirk, this film is definitely worth a watch.

Image my own (The Barbican)

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