You Don’t Nomi illustrates a reprise of acclaimed critics dedicating their admiration and disapproval for the 1995 film, Showgirls. Paul Verhoeven’s scandalous direction of his vision came to life when he depicted a woman’s struggle from nobody to somebody. Although the film’s initial response was overtly critical and widely misunderstood, the film found its uncanny redemption later in its release.
You Don’t Nomi structures alongside the reviews and voice overs of Adam Nayman (Vice Guide to Film), April Kidwell (I, Nomi) and Peaches Christ (Milk) as well as documented interviews with the infamous cast and crew of Showgirls.
The documentary film introduces the idea that Showgirls flirts with the imaginary line that film makers should respect when making their imperative decisions. Critics had centered their negative opinions about the film over the crudeness and unambiguous use of sex to an audience in 1995, not known for its popularity in NC-17 rated movies.
Verhoeven stated, “So many people think its bad to portray sex, and they think that its criminal to portray sex. Sexuality is a part of our life and we should not be afraid of it.”
“Verhoeven was widely understood in America as a satirist and as a social commentator as long as the primary texture of his film was violence and sex were sort of in the background as a cheap thing. Whenever he moves that stuff to the foreground and makes a movie that has a texture that is overtly sexual like Basic Instinct or Showgirls, people just sort of said, ‘What a pervert’, as if perverts can’t be funny.”
You Don’t Nomi targets the issues that Verhoeven made abundantly clear but critics also recognize that the mix between his faults and admiration are what make the film celebrated in modern day. The use of sexuality in the film was so wide spread that the message was unclear to most audiences during its release but its campy nature had the ability to influence even more conversation about the film’s entirety.
“It’s not enough to be naked, you have to talk about being naked, while you’re naked to remind people that you are naked.”
You Don’t Nomi magnifies the unlikely protagonist in the story by looking at the director’s intention and comparing it to the way audiences around the world perceived it, as anunpolished comedy. Barbara Shulgasser-Park stated, “Women are striving to have a real impact in society to get to the Supreme Court to be president, to run corporations that make policies that affect all of us. This is why it is laughable.”
The afterlife of Showgirls is continuously evolving and You Don’t Nomi includes the comparison of Elizabeth Berkley’s previous famous role as Jessie Spano in the hit 90’s comedy, Saved by the Bell. Her character from her earlier years portrays a feminist constantly fighting the misogynistic attitude of her classmates, which in ways, relates to her character in Showgirls. It approaches her transition from childhood stardom to the breakout role she eagerly thought would boost her career.
Director Paul Verhoeven stated in 2015, “People have, of course, criticized [Elizabeth] for being over-the-top in her performance. Most of that comes from me. I pushed it in that direction. Good or not good, I was the one who asked her to exaggerate everything -every move- because that was the element of style that I thought would work for the movie.”
Her elusive acting to portray Nomi, a dancer in the search for acceptance was not as easily accepted as the cast and crew may have wanted.
David Schmader, DVD commentator identifies the way that the film combines its love and hate it has received and allows new interpretation. “Showgirls is a film that cannot be simply praised nor by simply condemning it. You give it its due by allowing that both of these things are possible at once and that’s the respect that it deserves.”
It’s unapologetic direction and story telling is what made the film so sought after in today’s framework of raunchy movie making. You Don’t Nomi has the ability to persuade and open conversation of the direction of the film now, and years to come.