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Showgirls: A Film without an Audience

  • Feb 24, 2003
  • by
Pros: cinematography, great locations, sets

Cons: cheesy dialog, violent, depressing

The Bottom Line: Topless pole dancers in a feminist film?

It is easy to see why this film was not a success and is often laughed at. The studio spent loads of money creating elaborate sets, but who is this movie really intended for? At first glance, it seems like a skin flick that only exists to satisfy male fantasies. However, the director (Paul Verhoeven) actually has a feminist agenda. He attempts to show that men exploit women and that women have to be vicious in order to survive. This message is hidden behind dozens of naked women, glitzy sets and location shooting, and bad dialog.

The plot centers around Nomi, an aspiring Vegas dancer and Cristal, an older more established dancer, who gets Nomi a part in a big show number, but is evil and vindictive. One theme is that in selling her body to the audience, Nomi is no better than a wh*re. Another theme is that you can't trust men and have to fend for yourself in the world. The one "good" character gets raped and beaten and ends up in the hospital after all her philanthropy.

I can't say that I LIKED this movie. I don't particularly enjoy looking at naked women pole dancing, so Verhoeven didn't do a very good job making this movie appeal to women. Some of the criticism I have read says that it was a movie made about women and for women. I find that hard to believe. Also, some men who watch this movie may be put off by the feminist message and the fact that there are no good male characters in the entire movie. I didn't sympathize completely with any of the female characters (except for Molly, a woman who lets Nomi live with her), either, but the men are almost all jerks (for lack of a better word that would be censored by epinions.) The women were very competitive and literally injure each other at times for an edge in the show.

One great part of the film is the staging and cinematography. There are many elaborate motions that have to be followed using a "steady-cam." Also, there are dozens of mirror shots, which are incredibly difficult to set up. You have to see the person sitting in front of the mirror, but not the camera, which involves precision. It is beautiful, especially in anamorphic 35 mm, the format I watched it in today.

If you watch "Sex and the City," you will be amused to see the performance of "Zack" who is played by Charlotte's, impotent, yuppy husband from "S in the C." His sex scene in the tackiest pool you have ever seen is quite amusing.

The dialogue was cheesy at times, the movie lasted too long, and the ending seemed obvious. I didn't HATE the movie, but I didn't love it either. And I can't bring myself to agree with my (eccentric) film professor's assessment that this is the "greatest contemporary movie."

The best line (which my classmates and I went around quoting for days) was when Nomi is auditioning for a show and the director says to her, "I'm erect! Why aren't you?" and rubs ice on her nipples.

On the options below for "Suitability for Children," I think I should note that no one under 17 should see this movie. It is disturbingly violent and sexual. (The highest option there was "13 or older.")


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More Showgirls reviews
review by . October 10, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
This Ain't
   As a teen, I used to watch the kids TV show "Save By The Bell" just to see Elizabeth Berkley's character Jessie. Hmm, how cool am I? Needless to say, I'm also the kid who grew up on Verhoeven films. We're talking everything from his commercially accepted flicks like RoboCop, Total Recall, & Basic Instinct naturally to his more obscure stuff like The 4Th Man or the controversial Spetters. Good stuff all around.  Needless to say, I was also drawn to the …
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