This shameless celebration of Paul Verhoeven’s much-maligned Showgirls explores the film’s complicated afterlife, from disastrous release to cult adoration and extraordinary redemption.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2019
You’re either Team Showgirls, or you’re not. In the brilliantly titled, cleverly devised You Don’t Nomi, a documentary about one of the most ridiculed (and misunderstood) films of all time, director Jeffrey McHale investigates a true “masterpiece of shit” from every conceivable angle.
A Razzie record holder, Showgirls’ tale of Nomi, a sassy small-town gal who goes to Vegas to become a star, was a pure product of the 90s. It was an era of peak-machismo, which saw Verhoeven and writer Joe Eszterhas on a hot streak after the sleazy success of Basic Instinct. When Showgirls tanked, the men got off with a mild drubbing, while the film’s star, Elizabeth Berkley, took the full brunt of its commercial and critical failure, went into hiding, and never fully recovered her career.
Offering a fresh perspective on Berkley’s performance and Showgirls’ legacy, McHale mashes together clips from Verhoeven’s entire oeuvre like a mad celluloid alchemist. Leaving no thong unturned, he not only argues for Showgirls’ inclusion alongside camp classic hall of famers Valley of the Dolls and Mommie Dearest, but that it rightfully belongs on top of that prestigious list. — AT