Home » MOVIE REVIEW: In Your Dreams

MOVIE REVIEW: In Your Dreams

(Weapons of Mass Entertainment)
Part video diary and part artist portrait, In Your Dreams chronicles the birth of Stevie Nicks’s latest studio offering. (Weapons of Mass Entertainment)

By Katherine Monk
O Canada
Thursday, April 11, 2013, 6:35 pm

Stevie Nicks: In Your Dreams
**1/2 (Two and a half stars out of five)

  • Starring: Stevie Nicks and Dave Stewart
  • Directed by: Dave Stewart
  • Running time: 100 minutes
  • Parental Guidance: coarse language

They say the creative process can be like riding a rabid bull, eager to gore you in a moment of distraction one minute, and likely to stampede in a rush of inspiration the next.

Unpredictable, fiery and completely random, creativity can reduce the bravest, most decorated left-brained soldier into a puddle of nervous mush.

For singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks, this seems to be a natural state — a lacy palace of romantic thoughts and swirling melodies that complements her actual abode, a sprawling mansion with a mega-rotunda in suburban Los Angeles.

The house and Nicks’s ephemeral creative muse are essentially the two stars of In Your Dreams, a new documentary from multi-hyphenate producer Dave Stewart.

Part video diary of the production process, and part artist portrait, In Your Dreams chronicles the conception, gestation and eventual birth of Nicks’ latest studio offering, which shares the same title as the movie.

In many ways, it feels a lot like a generic outing from the folks at VH1 or MuchMusic — a slick collage of music videos and talking head interviews cut within an inch of looking like a straight commercial.

Yet, for all the generic filmmaking device, In Your Dreams is not a generic experience because Stevie Nicks is not your average pop star.

Easily one of the more compelling figures to occupy a stage at the height of the arena-rock era while a member of the record-breaking, iconic act Fleetwood Mac, Nicks always smacked of difference.

With her black cloaks, spinning dance moves and sulky, notoriously nasal voice, Nicks became a cryptic sex symbol, and part of the pop culture soap opera as the world followed her affairs and heartbreaks with the likes of Lindsey Buckingham and others.

Rumours of everything from substance abuse to witchcraft were also thrown into the cauldron of talk, and while In Your Dreams doesn’t exactly denude the singer’s quirky personal curiosities, it does bring the icon into clearer focus.

And frankly, that’s not always a good thing.

On the up side, we are given unprecedented insight into how Nicks creates her signature tunes. Without the structure of a formal musical education, Nicks simply sits at the keyboard and plinks around on the keys until she finds the right sounds to fit the melody in her head.

As the musicians in the room make abundantly clear, she breaks the rules of music all the time, often changing the number of beats in a bar, the time signature and the verb tense of the lyrics.

At times, we hear expert production staff tell her “she can’t” do something, to which Nicks responds in a perfectly diva-esque drawl, that “of course she can” — because it’s art, after all, not a term paper.

Her self-possession is obviously one of the big reasons why she became as successful as she is, but we also hear how success created fear at the bottom of her creative well, making her dread the possibility of fabricating a complete dud.

Stewart helps her get through all these creative traps because he not only understands the musician’s headspace and the female mind (having worked with Annie Lennox as the other half of Eurythmics), he’s a natural observer.

At the top of the film, Stewart tells us he’s been a man with a movie camera ever since he found a gold chain on the street, turned the corner to find a pawn shop, and traded the chain for an 8mm consumer model. He loves making movies, and we can feel his passion behind the frames as he completes a two-pronged project: the record, and the movie about making it.

The best parts come after the midway point, once Stewart has established Nicks as a serious artist worthy of icon status, because once he’s dispensed with her legacy, he can get down to brass tacks — and offer up the real face of the Phoenix-born daughter named Stephanie Lynn Nicks.

This stuff all feels a little too self-indulgent to spur feelings of sympathy, but it’s undeniably real and speaks directly to who Stevie Nicks really is.

Conjuring a feeling somewhere between nutty cat-collector and esteemed oddball sculptress Louise Nevelson, we hear Nicks tell us she was so moved by the plight of Katrina victims she “needed to take action.” So she wrote a poem.

She also tells us: “If my father were still the president of Greyhound, he would have had every bus in the country” converging on the deluged bayou to help move people.

These are lovely sentiments, and writing a song for the suffering is a nice gesture. Similarly, she tells us how much the Italians are going to love the ballad she wrote about Italy because it’s “the most romantic song (she) has ever written.”

And then, she talks about how much she loves Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series because she feels a soul connection to the fictional Bella Swan — because she, too, fell in love with a beautiful boy at 16 who eventually dumped her.

This stuff all feels a little too self-indulgent to spur feelings of sympathy, but it’s undeniably real and speaks directly to who Stevie Nicks really is: A well-intentioned, high-minded woman who feels great waves of empathy for others, but also has a healthy sense of ego to ensure she never feels like a wishy-washy waif.

Stewart captures the woman in fits and spurts, but he’s a rather random director and for all the technical prowess he brings to the booth, the songs feel overproduced. In fact, one of the most illuminating moments involves a demo track for an old unrecorded song that was found on the Internet.

The song is so cool, they decide to record it with all the bells and whistles. Yet, it doesn’t take a thick-rimmed music geek to realize the track sounded better as a haunting acoustic number. Stewart seems to turn everything into a Sting solo album, which may be manna to some people’s ears, but make mine hide under the bed.

As a slice of L.A. life, In Your Dreams succeeds beyond caveats because it captures all the ego and chandelier crystal of the fame-enabled lifestyle, but as a music doc and straight biography, In Your Dreams feels a little bleary-eyed.

Stevie Nicks participates in a Q&A session at the screening of In Your Dreams at the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday, April 15.



Stevie Nicks

MAY 14, 2024
Bridgestone Arena
Nashville, TN

MAY 18, 2024
Frost Bank Center
San Antonio, TX

MAY 21, 2024
Yaamava’ Resort & Casino – Yaamava’ Theater
Highland, CA

MAY 24, 2024
BottleRock Napa Valley
Napa, CA

MAY 27, 2024
Delta Center
Salt Lake City, UT

MAY 30, 2024
Ball Arena
Denver, CO

Gainbridge Fieldhouse
Indianapolis, IN

JUN 9 
Mohegan Sun Casino
Uncasville, CT

JUN 12
MVP Arena
Albany, NY

JUN 15 
Hersheypark Stadium
Hershey, PA

JUN 18
Van Andel Arena
Grand Rapids, MI

JUN 21, 2024
Soldier Field
Chicago, IL

European Tour

JUL 3, 2024
Dublin, Ireland

JUL 6, 2024
OVO Hydro
Glasgow, UK

JUL 9, 2024
Co-op Live
Manchester, UK

JUL 12, 2024
BST Hyde Park
London, UK

JUL 16, 2024
Sportpaleis Antwerpen
Merksem (Antwerpen)

JUL 19, 2024
Ziggo Dome

^ Non-Live Nation show