Dir: Paul Verhoeven, 1995
This review is of the uncut version
Some critics are determined to hate something, even before they’ve actually seen it. Before Paul Verhoeven’s camp cult classic was released it was getting a lot of bad press.
Accusations of pornography, explicit sex and graphic were abundant. But, as is always the case, the reports were unfounded.
Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley) dreams of becoming a dancer in Las Vegas.
Working her way up through strip clubs and lap dancing, Nomi, finally, has her dream come true when she is offered an audition to be in Goddess, an expensive glamourous show performed at the Stardust hotel.
The lead in Goddess is Cristal Connors, a beautiful bisexual and envy of the showgirls.
Setting her sights on Cristal’s coveted top spot, Nomi has to deal with jealousy, rivalry and betrayal, all in the name of fame and success.
Showgirls is one of those films that show how out of touch critics are.
Derided on release, the film has now become a cult favourite with many influential people in the industry praising it and Verhoeven for its biting satire.
However, arguing that it was meant to be a satire from the start provides Verhoeven and Esterhaz with a wonderful excuse from all its downfalls.
Whether that was intended or not is irrelevant as Showgirls is a fun, sexy and raunchy film with plenty of boobs, bums and landing strips.
The plot is banal and the characters unoriginal but Verhoeven keeps things interesting (to be honest, though, how can a film full of naked women be boring?).
As a whole, the film is a total mess. Everything about it is badly written and directed.
Desperately trying to shake off her innocence after starring in teen comedy Saved By The Bell, Berkley gleefully spreads her legs and bares her breasts proving that Jessie is all grown up.
However, her acting is merely passable. There is very little emotion in her accept anger or annoyance.
To be fair, this isn’t a role where a lot of emotion or characterisation is needed, but some is warranted to help the viewer become immersed in the film instead of just bare arses.
Showgirls is fun because it’s trashy and sleazy. Nobody ever said it was meant to be the Citizen Kane of strip films or erotica.
At over 130 minutes, the film is certainly too long and Verhoeven pads the film out with unimportant and trivial scenes.
There are a number of subplots at work that don’t really go anywhere or are over too quick and don’t add anything to the story or improve the film.
A controversial scene that caused the British censors to remove thirteen seconds from the cinema release and a further seven from the video, is the violent rape of Nomi’s best friend (?).
Angry and upset, Nomi appears at the perpetrator’s hotel room and kicks seven bells of shite out of him.
And that’s it.
There is no need for that subplot to be in the film.
I’m not saying that rape is trivial but, in the context of this film, its inclusion is trivial. The only purpose in the film is to shock and depict the dark side of fame show business and we’ve already seen that.
Sexual assault in cinema is something that needs to be handled carefully. The Accused has a graphic rape scene but it has a statement to make about male culture and that no woman ever asks to raped.
But, here, there’s nothing. It’s brevity and lack of relation to the story makes the subplot redundant and, therefore, trivial.
Aside from the running time, Showgirls is great fun. Like a chrysalis, the film has emerged as a classic from an ignored caterpillar.
Hot and horny, Berkley with her co-star Gina Gershon ooze sexiness and humidity that won’t fail to get you steamy.