5 review score One great score that hums throughout this documentary is the stinging truth about early chances and fantasies. It argues that at the end of fame one pays the price with alienated senselessness and a possible lifetime of silent grief. Unless we free ourselves. Unless we learn to love what we are — again.
Remember that dark toned man shot in Black & White at the beginning of Madonna’s VOGUE in 1990? What about that cute Asian butler dusting along stairs with a sophisticated swish of the duster? Or..or…that long haired gorgeous guy who dances with Madonna with his shirt open, expressing more sex that fashion? They were just some of Madonna’s finest dancers in the late 80s, who toured with her during her Blonde Ambition Tour. And they have stories to tell.
Directors Ester Gould and Reijer Zwann’s STRIKE A POSE (2016) tell their stories. It explores how these dancers worked their way to the top with Madonna and gained more fame than they expected. In this documentary, Madonna’s on the sideline, giving much highlight to people at her back that graced her stage with a magic we only see on screen or on MTV.
And it deals with sensitive issues, too. These dancers soon pay the price of ambition, and Gould and Zwann eventually bring forth a stunningly dark narrative about drugs, sex, violence and HIV/AIDS. It talks about how Madonna blindly followed her passion, consequently having her very young team to pay a great price. This one also includes a story of a mother whose son was once a major part of Madonna’s team and who soon died of AIDS. Her narrative takes the film’s discourse into its core – a heartbreaking monologue of a woman forever trapped in a tragedy only mothers can have.
What I like most about STRIKE A POSE is that even if Madonna didn’t get involved in the film, her presence stunningly lingers all throughout. With newer stories behind her BLONDE AMBITION TOUR and MADONNA: TRUTH OR DARE (1991), you’ll get to see another side of her, begging to let out. Here, you’ll feel Madonna in a younger, riskier flesh, wanting to make a statement to a world that was condemning her.
We soon learn that three out of these seven dancers soon sued Madonna for breach of contract and scandal. It even goes further to how things eventually fell apart for the group, and for Madonna. At some point, you’ll see yourself hating the Queen of Pop as a person; but the documentary somehow takes you to a trance of fanatic blindness, making you feel that Madonna is still bigger than what you think she is.
And that, I think, makes all the difference.
These dancers became a part of my life while I was growing up. To see Madonna with her group of fantastic young dancers on stage and on television is to see how life can be beautiful, graceful and fabulous. I’m sure you have your own stories too when we talk about these men; how we loved fantasizing about them during their prime. Some of us even wanted to be like them, dancing beside the Queen, giving her more radiance on stage and on screen.
But this documentary, however, fast forwards to 2015…painting a newer picture of our former fantasies (and of Madonna); offering a deeper connection that goes beyond sex and lust. Here, we see them as people — sick, loving and still hoping. The reunion dinner at the final part of the film offers the most powerful part in the documentary. You have to wait for it. As they share their lives and eventual realizations after decades of imbalance and neglect, I can’t help but to cry with them.
One great score that hums throughout this documentary is the stinging truth about early chances and fantasies. It argues that at the end of fame one pays the price with alienated senselessness and a possible lifetime of silent grief.
Unless we free ourselves. Unless we learn to love what we are now — again.
Having said that, STRIKE A POSE (2016) is ultimately a must-see for all Madonna fans out there, like me.
FIVE STARS OUT OF FIVE!!!
To see STRIKE A POSE (2016) on Netflix, click here.