Stevie Nicks: In Your Dreams
- Two and a half stars out of five
- Starring: Stevie Nicks, Dave Stewart
- Directed by Stevie Nicks and Dave Stewart
- Running time: 100 minutes
- Parental guidance: language
- Playing at: Cinéma du Parc, Friday to Monday
MONTREAL — The Fleetwood Mac concert scheduled for Tuesday at the Bell Centre has been cancelled. So, about the only way local fans will now be able to catch Mac member Stevie Nicks, the raspy, enigmatic, Grammy Award-winning singer, is through the magic of celluloid: the documentary In Your Dreams: Stevie Nicks, opening Friday and running only until Monday at Cinéma du Parc.
But Mac fans be warned: this doc doesn’t focus on the fab foursome, but rather on the collaboration between Nicks and former Eurythmics frontman Dave Stewart in the production of Nicks’s solo disc In Your Dreams — released to mostly glowing reviews two years ago.
Nicks and Stewart are also credited as co-directors and co-executive producers of this film. Which means that they let viewers in on the pop-music world they wish them to see, and not necessarily the warts-and-all pop-music world that an outside director might have depicted.
As such, the doc begins with gushing testimony from a gaggle of Nicks fans who declare, among other things, that she is one of the greatest voices of our times. No doubt. Certainly, her distinctive vocal stylings helped elevate such Mac tunes as Gypsy, Landslide and Rhiannon to iconic status. And certainly several cuts on In Your Dreams will probably stand the test of time, too.
Point is, Nicks’s vocals speak for themselves. There is no need for gratuitous aggrandizement and grandstanding here.
But it seems that Nicks adores herself as much as her fans do. Which means that those not as intensely fanatic about Nicks could have difficulty with aspects of this documentary love-in.
This same group of observers could also have difficulty with a level of Nicks’s pomposity, particularly when it comes to her comparing herself to Bob Dylan as a writer. She also has the gall to inform management at the hotel in Italy where she is staying that the poem she penned while there and is presenting them will have immeasurable cultural value down the road.
Nicks has much to be proud of without having to hammer us over the head about her ability as a singer and songwriter. At 65, she remains a vital force and can compose and croon with the best of them. Probably because she is one of the very few women of her epoch still cranking it out, she feels compelled to blow her own horn — particularly when it is the senior Jaggers and McCartneys of the pop world who seem to get most of the press for their ability to endure and to continue to pack the big rooms.
Maybe there is an element of truth when Nicks proclaims at the beginning of the doc that she and Stewart have decided to “defy” the recording industry, to bring out a disc, “from our tribe to yours,” that will remind people of the grand old ways of the business — evidently a more pure and noble period in the last century when those in the biz were all saints.
But this rant really starts to veer off the deep end. This is the kind of poppycock rock talk that could induce projectile hurling among the squeamish.
Sure, between Nicks’s solo and group efforts with Fleetwood Mac in that period, more than 140 million albums were sold. But lest we forget: those hazy, crazy years were fairly turbulent for Nicks, who had to overcome major drug-dependency issues and who, rumour had it, had been associated with witchcraft.
Stewart, for his part, talks of the obvious pairing between him and Nicks. They have both recovered from relationships, romantic and musical. In his case, it was his Eurythmics mate Annie Lennox. In her case, it was Lindsey Buckingham, with whom she split romantically but with whom she still works both on the solo and Fleetwood Mac fronts.
Stewart rhapsodizes how he stumbled into this “labyrinth cave” that is Stevie Nicks. It’s actually quite the palatial estate “somewhere in Southern California” — as pointed out in the film. Evidently, Stewart has been into filming stuff ever since finding a gold chain on the street and exchanging it for a video camera at an Australian pawnshop.
So when Nicks gave Stewart some of her poetic musings, it was decided they transform them to music and that he capture it all on film.
Nicks takes a back seat to no one. The camera picks up occasional sniping when a producer has the temerity to tell her a lyric isn’t working for him. “Would you tell Bob Dylan what to write?” she asks, almost incredulously.
Nicks also makes it abundantly clear that Edgar Allan Poe is a big influence. In fact, she brings an adaptation of Poe’s 1839 poem Annabel Lee (about eternal love beyond the grave) — which she wrote when she was 17 — out of the vault to bring to musical life in In Your Dreams. Her hope is that it will turn kids on to the mystical poetry of Poe. Nice thought, even though it comes off as a tad too pretentious.
On the other hand, credit Nicks for coming to the aid of wounded U.S. soldiers and contributing to Hurricane Katrina relief. She does have heart.
What this doc doesn’t and should reveal is what drove her from the beginning. All we really learn in one small tidbit is that her grandfather, a struggling country singer, played a role in her musical life.
There is probably much more and much less to the life and times of Stevie Nicks than what is presented in this picture. But it will take someone else to bring that story to the screen.
Bill Brownstein, firstname.lastname@example.org / Montreal Gazette / Thursday, June 13, 2013