The perverse critical power of Paul Verhoeven
’s outrageous 1995 melodrama is dissected in this affectionate documentary
It’s 25 years since screenwriter Joe Eszterhas
and director Paul Verhoeven released their jaw-dropping example of what can only be called hardcore soft porn: Showgirls, the story of a tough, sexy dancer called Nomi arriving in Las Vegas longing to make it in the bafflingly unprestigious world of hotel entertainment erotica floorshows. She was played by Elizabeth Berkley
, who, with Verhoeven’s encouragement, delivered her character like a Stepford-Westworld sexbot: toggling with lightning speed between badass pouting, sultry smirking and explosive tantrums.
This documentary from Jeffrey McHale
is an affectionate account of how this film has been rehabilitated. It was at first mocked by the critics, then showered with Razzies, which Verhoeven accepted in person like a good sport – the first step in its long, ironically humorous upward march. Showgirls
then had an afterlife as a campy midnight-movie event,