[Documentary Review] YOU DON’T NOMI

There are some topics that are better left by the wayside when it comes to getting to know folks. Y’all know how deeply polarizing subjects like politics and religion can be – Hell, we’ve become increasingly more divided due to perceived differences in these areas in more recent years. I’d been raised with this important bit of awareness under my belt of Canadian-brand politeness, but another subject falls under that very same umbrella that I hadn’t anticipated – Paul Verhoeven‘s Showgirls (1995).

I’d fallen in love with this deeply divisive, sleazy flick later than most. Truth be told, it wasn’t on my radar until my boyfriend introduced me to it a few years back. I was expecting pure schlock given all the horror stories I had heard from critics over the years, yet something totally unexpected happen – I feel head over stiletto-heels in love with it.

While I could undoubtedly fill this space with every reason why I proudly bear a deep adoration for Showgirls, it’d be moot as that is largely the driving force behind YOU DON’T NOMI; Exploring the glory behind this controversial flick is a task this Showgirls focused documentary conquers much more gracefully than I ever could.

Though excited as hell, I hadn’t fully anticipated how deeply knowledgable of an experience laid before me. I went into this documentary an unapologetic fanatic of Showgirls, and yet managed to leave with an even deeper love and understanding. Chock-full of archival footage including behind-the-scenes rehearsals, interviews, and critic responses, YOU DON’T NOMI goes into every possible angle boasted by critics over the years, providing a deep analysis of each, both positive and negative. Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of this documentary is its unbiased approach – Arguments are made on both ends, leaving it up to the viewer to decide just how powerful a film Showgirls is to be defined as.

Response aside, several structural devices are dissected that I hadn’t previously considered. Author Adam Nayman, one of several Showgirls experts providing commentary for the documentary, explores several examples of undeniably clever, undermined tools Verhoeven put to use in concocting this magnificent ‘trash-terpiece’. Also explored under the same attentive lens is how Verhoeven’s assumed view of American culture is also depicted herein; Showgirls serves as yet another film plunked from his catalogue that is seemingly bathed deeply in satire while simultaneously mirroring the uncomfortable realities of western culture.

Peaches Christ plays Cristal Connors in the stage production of “Showgirls! The Musical!” as featured in the documentary YOU DON’T NOMI, an RLJE Films release | Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.

Another notable, unexpected facet of this documentary is its exploration of the queer elements, employed in Showgirls. Having developed a diehard audience in the queer community since the film’s release in 1995, this documentary explores the appeal and parallels presented herein, once again presenting arguments I previously hadn’t considered. Furthermore, YOU DON’T NOMI also touches upon Peaches Christ, a San Franciscan drag queen, and the entwinement between drag and midnight movies in her respective community.

YOU DON’T NOMI was truly magnificent. Not a single area could’ve been improved upon, as each element was perfect – The natural flow, the juxtaposing viewpoints, the stylish transitions, the fascinating archival footage… As a diehard fan, I cannot deny the fact that it brought a tear to my eye. It just feels like justice has finally prevailed – After a quarter of a century, Showgirls is finally receiving the respect and recognition it deserves… And that definitely doesn’t suck.

YOU DON’T NOMI will arrive On Demand and On Digital June 9, 2020.

Breanna Whipple
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One thought on “[Documentary Review] YOU DON’T NOMI

  1. Did we watch the same documentary? As a lifelong Showgirls fan I could not have been more disappointed. It was SO dry. Not a SINGLE of the interviews was show on camera, instead opting for audio played over still photos and video clips. Less than 20 minutes of the nearly 2 hour documentary was actual video footage, instead opting for clips from Robocop, Spetters, Total Recall and other films by Paul Verhooven. Nothing the academics said was stuff that hasn’t been visited countless times before. The only shining light was April Kidwell’s take; everything else was a painful SNOOZE.

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