Nicolas Cage is an actor with a rather complex career history, spanning all the way back to the early 80s. He’s gone from an action hero to a bit of a joke, and yet in the last few years he has managed to return to his status as some kind of powerhouse of the film industry. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent takes all of this in its stride, reflecting on Cage’s career through Pedro Pascal’s character, and his obsession with everything Nicolas Cage. The film blurs the lines between fact and fiction so seamlessly, it becomes difficult to tell exactly where the film and reality meet.
The primary narrative of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent follows Nicolas Cage, playing Nick Cage, as he is invited to the birthday party of a very wealthy man, played by Pedro Pascal. The film then splits into two, half of it being focused on Nick Cage helping the American secret service to track down a kidnapped girl, while the other half focuses on the frankly adorable friendship that forms between Cage and his super fan. The lines between reality and fiction are further blurred as Cage and Pascal work on a film together within the film. The ending leaves you questioning just how much of the action truly happened. It’s a fantastically meta moment, in which the audience is left to contemplate the relationship between film and reality, and question the reality of celebrity personas both on and off screen.
Cage’s character specifically is fascinating, borrowing enough from Cage’s star persona to make him into this amalgamation of reality and fiction
Without wishing to spoil too much, I believe the plot is ultimately secondary to the amazing character work throughout the film. From the writing to the acting, the characters in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent feel surprisingly real. Cage’s character specifically is fascinating, borrowing enough from Cage’s star persona to make him into this amalgamation of reality and fiction. I can personally imagine the lines that come from Cage were entirely improvised, as it always seems like he is simply being himself, although obviously a highly mediated version of himself. The entire film is elevated by Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal, their acting genuinely blowing me away. While they are quite obviously highly exaggerated characters, due to the film’s position as a comedy, their friendship feels real, their awkwardness with each other feels relatable. Putting my own love for Pedro Pascal aside for a moment, I honestly can’t commend their acting enough, and they are supported by a brilliant wider cast.
The film takes its time throughout to reflect upon Cage’s career, his persona, and the way that it affects his personal relationships. People constantly reference what their favourite Nick Cage films are, Pascal’s character has an entire room in his house dedicated to memorabilia from Cage’s past films, and Cage himself constantly talks about how he needs just one more big film. Throughout the film Nick Cage talks to a younger version of himself, who keeps demanding he continues trying to make himself into a movie star, rather than doing what Cage appears to want to do, reflecting on the nature of the film industry and Hollywood’s unhealthy obsession with the people that star in films. The scenes in which Cage talks to himself feel very reminiscent of the 2002 Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze film Adaptation, which also functions as a meta commentary on the film industry, on a slightly broader scale. Both films contain fantastic performances from Nicolas Cage – however, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a more approachable and arguably more enjoyable take on the meta film.
For those who love film, it’s a brilliantly meta conversation about the film industry and the toll it can take on someone
From Mandy, to The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Cage has made a real comeback in recent years, and it would be impossible for me not to recommend this film to everyone. For those who love Cage, it’s another fantastic film to add to his immense roster of acting credits. For those who love film, it’s a brilliantly meta conversation about the film industry and the toll it can take on someone. For those just looking for a good film, this is one that has action, comedy, drama and ultimately had me smiling from beginning to end. If my love for this film isn’t enough to convince you, there is a scene in which Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal get high, and absolute hilarity ensues. If that can’t get you into the cinema to see The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, I don’t know what will.