There’s a line in the film Out of the Past: ‘I think I’m in a frame, I’m going in there to look for the picture.’ Reading this book is a bit like that. Not that Scott necessarily writes with one eye on the film rights (though Movie Dreams may well translate effectively to film), but because the book is largely an exploration of the influence of popular movies on the imaginative life – especially the imaginative life of a troubled adolescent who once had film school aspirations.
Adan Loney, an angst-ridden adolescent in the Holden Caulfield mould, drops out of school in Brisbane and leaves his sister and dope-smoking mum to travel north. The decision is not made lightly. ‘It was such a big thing and so crazy, leaving, that I was looking for any excuse to just go and not think about it.’ Like Caulfield, he’s struggling to cope with grief. His closest friend, Lee (who looked like River Phoenix), blew his brains out after a party and Adan has been seeing it in slow motion ever since. He’s also trying to cope with drugs, the skins who are after him for money, school, and his mother’s expectations that he’ll revive his faded dream of getting into film school. There’s also the sense of betrayal and desertion associated with his father’s leaving.