The unbearable weight of a huge talent glorifies the cinema itself

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Shot with more nods and winks than most movies can handle, The Unbearable Weight of Huge Talent threatens to push the concept of the metanarrative to its limits. It stars Nicolas Cage as a fictionalized version of himself, nicknamed Nick Cage, who is forced to write the script for a movie in which he will play the title role. And yet, when it seems that no work of art has ever looked at its own navel so long and lovingly, it turns out to be an anthem to the cinema itself, and not to Nic Cage at all.

Let’s back up. AT Huge talent Nic Cage is unhappy, on the verge of financial ruin and has just lost the role of a lifetime. His obsession with his career has alienated his ex-wife and daughter, and he is plagued by visions of his youngest self, Niki. In desperation, he accepts $1 million to go to the birthday party of a wealthy fan named Javi, played by Pedro Pascal. All of this is in contrast to the real life Cage, who is married with two sons and apparently not haunted by visions of his youthful self. (Although the actor said that he based Nicky 1990 interview he gave, where he was “obnoxious, arrogant and irreverent”. To further confuse things, the credits indicate that Nicky is played by Nicholas Kim Coppola, Cage’s real name.)

Given the unbearable heaviness of the very concept of the film, it is easy to imagine how Huge Talent could fall apart. This is not true. Instead, once it starts to teeter on the brink of becoming a one-note movie whose only concern is using Nic Cage to play a prank on Nic Cage, it takes a turn. When Xavi shows Nic Cage his Nic Cage temple, along with national treasure posters, Face/Off wax figure and sequined Nic Cage pillow— Writer-director Tom Gormican’s film shows that it celebrates the films that Cage makes, rather than the actor himself.

The true heart of the film is revealed in its references. Mentions of meme content such as Nick Cage in a banana peel or cage Saturday night life appearance nowhere to be found. Instead of, Huge Talent summons a chainsaw from MandyCage’s stunningly gorgeous 2018 experimental film and Cage’s cult film “Not bees!line from Wicker man. And while many episodes are taken straight from the actor’s filmography, with moments or scenes faithfully recreated, there are relatively few specific references to Cage as a person. Movies take center stage.

Javi, and by extension the movie itself, isn’t going to idolize Cage for his quirky, quotable moments. It’s amazing how the actor managed to turn these moments into something that the audience feels in the first place. Both Xavi and the film are concerned with how unbridled passion, without caring about looking “stupid” or “unrealistic”, can capture genuine feelings and experiences. After all, not all emotions or experiences neatly fit into a clean Hollywood package.

This is what Nic Cage has been striving for for most of his career. This is also the goal cinema myself. We don’t watch movies about people swapping faces or stealing the Declaration of Independence because we want to see realistic, believable things happening on screen. We look at them to see colorful, vibrant stories with memorable characters and scenes that convey the fullest range of emotions.

From this point of view, Nic Cage does not replace Nic Cage, but passion. By the end of the film, it becomes clear why the real Nick is so insistent on separating the characters. Huge Talent does not seek to interrogate the person behind the meme, but rather digs into the lore of an actor so capable of being enthusiastic that he has influenced a ridiculous circle of cinephiles. In this he finds the power of myths to inspire. Nick Cage, now a canonized real-life folk hero he’s supposed to make fun of, is the epitome of everything a movie can be.

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