Today: May 26, 2024
Editorial use only. No book cover usage. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Mgm/Ua/Kobal/Shutterstock (5881280o) Elizabeth Berkley Showgirls - 1995 Director: Paul (Dutch) Verhoeven MGM/UA USA Scene Still

You Don’t Nomi

In 1995, infamous director Paul Verhoeven unleashed the tale of Nomi Malone on the world in his notorious erotic drama Showgirls. Met with near-universal derision from critics and audiences alike, the film looked like it was destined to be forgotten, even picking up the Razzie for Worst Film. Now, 25 years on, the now-cult film continues to inspire discussion, resulting in this post-mortem documentary from director Jeffrey McHale.

This cine-essay splits into three competing schools of thought – that Showgirls is downright bad, that it is a masterpiece, and that perhaps it is somewhere in between. Packed with footage from the film and Verhoeven’s other titles, You Don’t Nomi is a polished feature debut from director McHale. Also featuring lots of rare archival interviews with the film’s cast and crew including Verhoeven and writer Joe Eszterhas, the documentary certainly has the material to back up its points made in voiceover by harsh critics, loving defenders, and anyone in between. 

Beyond the film footage and cast/crew interviews, we are also treated to footage of the inspiring impact Showgirls has had on its legions of dedicated fans. We see clips of a passionate off-Broadway musical spoof by a group of dedicated superfans, and wild screenings that would have The Room’s Tommy Wiseau cackling with delight. 

If nothing else, the film feels like a love letter to Showgirls’ lead Elizabeth Berkley whose name, and career, took the brunt of the film’s critical bashing. Those looking for a making-of doc would be wise to look elsewhere, as this affectionately critical film is dedicated entirely to the film’s divisive legacy and to some extent, the effects it had on the it’s cast and crew. Despite some sequences feeling almost cruel in their ruthless mocking of Verhoeven’s campy classic, McHale’s in-depth cine-essay generally feels fair and balanced, and may even inspire a wider reappraisal of the subject. 

There’s more to Showgirls than meets the eye, and this well-executed documentary will make you question everything you thought you knew about Nomi Malone.

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