Dreams on Fire
Driven by dreams of being a dancer, young hopeful Yume (famed Japanese dancer Bambi Naka) packs her suitcase and leaves home for the neon streets of Tokyo to turn her fantasies into reality. Once there, however, she learns that getting her big break won’t be as easy as she thought. She rents a tiny room in the city and dedicates herself to honing her craft, whilst balancing a hostess job in the red-light district, chasing every opportunity she can for her chance at success. The plot is of little importance in Philippe McKie’s Dreams on Fire – rather, it’s a vehicle that transports viewers through the vibrant, weird, and wonderful world of Japan’s underground music scene.
Beginning at a small dance club, Yume’s journey takes her to various classes, clubs, and bars, all of which are rooted in their own nook of Japanese dance culture, from hip-hop to heavy metal, J-pop, traditional, and everything else in between. McKie’s first feature film is an intoxicating spectacle that sets Tokyo’s thriving nightlife centre-stage as it embraces the universal passion visibly shared by each artist, regardless of musical preferences. The delightful voyage of discovery into these diverse subcultures is as much the viewer’s as it is Yume’s, though it does come as a slight disappointment that other genres aren’t given as much attention as hip-hop and electronica. In a city like Tokyo where everything has a home, it’s somewhat limiting that rock and metal only exist in bars and sex clubs.
Outside of the dancing itself, the central narrative also offers a glimpse into the life of an aspiring artist, spanning issues of misogyny, sexism and image. As with the rest of the character’s story, these additions never take precedence, though their inclusion adds some extra substance to her search for fame and transforms the plot into something more than a faceless vessel for the music. Likewise, the injection of drama makes returning to Yume’s life offstage worthwhile.
The Tokyo clubs pulsate with sound and are home to a plethora of unique scenes. Dreams on Fire is a ticket to them all, consistently surprising and inspiring throughout.
Dreams on Fire does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Glasgow Film Festival website here.