Asavvy little docu portrait of an all-femme Japanese troupe, “Dream Girls” is as bizarre as the most diligently transgressive gender-bender enterprise and as benignly exuberant as any kids-in-showbiz tract. Subject of this straightforward but technically adept docu is guaranteed to hook any audience that tunes in.
Focus of pic directed by Kim Longinotto and Jano Williams is Japan’s Takarazuka Revue and the exclusive school where its all-girl cast is put through the rigors of a severely disciplined, almost military existence as they prepare to tread the boards.
The revue stages lavish meller musicals on garish sets before packed auds of devoutly adoring women. Femme players taking male roles have an especially ardent following stoked by the fact that the idealized, sensitive men they portray are the antithesis of traditional Japanese manhood.
Housewives gush that the passionate, attentive, erotically charged nature of “male” Takarazuka stars makes them forget the shortcomings of their work-fixated husbands. An astounding volume of love letters, flowers and other tributes arrives, and fans mob their idols in public appearances.
Most Takarazuka alumnae leave at age 25 to be married, and docu touches on the potentially traumatic adjustment to real male-female roles in Japanese society.