Dreams on Fire, directed by Phillipe McKee, premiered at Fantasia Film Festival. At first glance, the film appears to be a traditional, coming-of-age dancer’s story. The young girl dreams of being a dancer and heads to the big city to pursue her dream. It differs in the various areas in Tokyo that dancer Yume (Bambi Naka) finds herself in. We see an entire world that is often not shown to us, especially those of us outside Japan. The film becomes more than Yume’s dream, but the dreams of all the people she meets. Like Yume, Dreams On Fire is resilient and determined to be more, alighting the story with fantastical style, music, and passion.  

Direction, Edits & Acting Work Together

The direction is fascinating. The scenes with dancing have slow motion and edits that are reminiscent of Youtube dance videos. There’s also not one type of dancing shown. As Yume journeys, she moves through different music and dance styles, from hip hop to modern. The variety in Dreams On Fire is its strength. 

Bambi Naka’s does a masterful job as Yume, taking us from job to job and dream to dream. We root for her throughout Dreams On Fire because she’s not only passionate, but she encounters roadblocks. She responds realistically, not smiling and pushing through, but experiences sadness when things don’t work out. But Yume also meets people who support her, though she does not realize it. Nor does Yume recognize that it’s not just her dancing that pulls people to her. It’s her passion and compassion combined. Often, we focus so much on the negative we do not see the positive. 

Dreams On Fire Locations Elevate The Film

Dreams On Fire still of a girl with multicolored hair, barrettes in bright neon colors.
Courtesy of Fantasia International Film Festival

The story is beautiful in itself, but Yume’s journey takes us through an entire underground world in Japan. We get to see the underbelly of the hostessing world through Yume’s short employment. Many women especially will relate to the threatening nature employers take when you set a boundary. We see a club of vibrant cosplayers, drag queens, and costumes I can’t even describe, voguing. Another club in Dreams On Fire brings in to mind the film Coyote Ugly, where ladies dance and serve drinks; however, there is a steeper penalty if you overstep. Although, the men love the punishment. 

It’s hard to recall another film that shows so many aspects of Japan that are not mainstream. The styles, music, clubs, and dancing all stand out from each other. What unites them is Yume’s transience through them on her way to achieving her goal. Yume’s name means dreams, and her passion is the fire that propels her and the story forward. Most stories where a person pursues a dream often stop at one or two locations. Here, Yume is always on the move, and the viewers benefit from it. None of the locations feel forced in Dreams On Fire thanks to Yume’s character and Bambi Naka portraying her. 

Wonderful Glimpse Of Other Experiences

Audiences will be captivated by the music and fashion in Dreams On Fire. The clothing is a mix of goth, lolita, punk, hip hop, and everything in between and beyond. The bold and daring styles may cause envy, but who’s to say we can’t adopt some of that fashion where we are and shake things up? They may be in the center of style because they are trying it all. 

Dreams On Fire blazes through Yume’s journey to achieve her goal. It’s held together through Yume’s innocence, joy, and fearlessness. The film will renew the fire within viewers to pursue their dreams. The pacing is good; the sets change alongside the style and music, so it’s never stale. The film will leave you wishing you were in Tokyo and that you had Yume’s tattoos! 

1 Reply to “Dreams On Fire: Coming of Age With Alternative Twist—Fantasia Review”

  1. Definitely would like to check this film out based on DarkSkyLadys’ review. Sounds like something I would enjoy watching. Thank you for this review on “Dreams On Fire”.

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