Film & TV

Film Review: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Creatively unfulfilled and facing financial ruin, the fictionalised version of Cage must accept a $1 million offer to attend the birthday of a super fan

The man and the myth come together as Nicholas Cage plays Nicholas Cage in this cunning and hilarious, brilliantly conceived film.

Whether you like the commercial appeal or the critical approach of cinema, Tom Gormican’s The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent has it all: car chases and gunfights; father-daughter bonds and bromance; intertextuality and self-reference; and Nicholas ‘fucking’ Cage.

Nic Cage is a Big Hollywood star – A-lister, ubiquitous, redundant? Feeling both underappreciated and underemployed, Nic, played by Cage, has decided to quit acting. All he has to do is fly to Majorca for the birthday celebrations of superfan and olive-oil baron Javi Gutierrez and he’s out of the business, free to focus on his fledgeling relationship with sixteen-year-old daughter Addy. But when the CIA intercept him to find a girl believed to have been kidnapped by Gutierrez as a move to safeguard his cartel, Nic has to act one more time, and it’s the role of his life.

Cage is best known for his over-the-top performances, and having thus embraced the meme that he is, his off-screen persona has taken on an eccentric quality of its own – one reason this film works so well. Roasting his identifiable looseness and intensity, and celebrating both his stardom and absurdity, Nicholas Cage is all-in. Though he could probably manage the heavy-lifting alone, Pedro Pascal is his winning companion as Javi, whose endearing love for Nic Cage – as both actor and man – and for cinema is so pure it’s almost child-like, but never childish. It’s a superb pairing of actors and characters and adds to the film’s success.

Riffing mightily off the likes of his blockbuster action films Con Air and Face Off, Cage’s arthouse classics give the film wings, too. There’s more than a conceptual nod to the multi-Academy Award nominated Adaptation (including best lead role, Nicholas Cage), as Nic and Javi write a screenplay together where fact and fiction become blurred, and just as David Lynch’s Wild at Heart had main character Sailor (played by Cage) summon the ghost of Elvis (played by Cage) when he needed encouragement, so does Gormican’s Nic (played by Cage) summon the ghost of Cage’s Sailor (played by Cage) to fire him up. Confusing? It’s metanarrative at its cleverest, but because it’s also at its funniest, this isn’t a film anyone needs to overthink.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is undiluted indulgence and I’d struggle to find anything negative to say about it. Embrace the ingenuity. Embrace the laughter. Embrace the Cage.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent opens today.

Click here to access the official website

Reviewed by Heather Taylor Johnson

Funny and clever 4.5 stars

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