Film Review: BARE (directed by Aleksandr M. Vinogradov)

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by Tony Frankel on November 5, 2020

in Film


More prurient than incisive, Bare documents the creation of an all-male, all-naked modern dance piece by Belgian dancemaker Thierry Smits. From audition to opening night, there are so many wondrous money shots here, artful in a Robert Mapplethorpe style, that we are almost willing to forgive the fact we never see the completed work, Anima Ardens, which is a shame because completed sections are positively striking. But I dare you to keep your legs still watching this film (and I’m not talking about the choreography).

There are no hidden cameras here; indeed, a giant microphone is on display in the shower room, so the mostly (or all?) openly gay dancers seem to be titillating and performing for the camera — not that I have a problem with that, mind you; but boys being boys baring their breathtaking bare bums belie the trials and tribulations of being a dancer. It was as if writer / director / producer / editor / composer / cinematographer Aleksandr M. Vinogradov was trying to echo Smits’ ideals, but the shower room antics felt out of place next to Smits’ eloquence (there’s some hot shower stuff, though).

There’s one dancer whose back freezes up and requires a cortisone shot, and I love that we see them smoking on a stoop during a rehearsal break, but for a full-length film, it would be nice to have more context – to know where we are and who these European dancers are (Oliver Tida Tida is one of the hardest working dancers in the film – where does that resolve come from?).

To be fair, that’s not what this film is about. Indeed, I’m grateful that we don’t hear Smits talking about his concept much, as choreographers tend to get mighty existential explaining why which leap goes where. It’s fascinating here to simply watch him collaborate with his 11 dancers.

Yes, this is a celebration of the naked form, which the world denies more and more in a puritanical way, and the art of dance; but man is it ever homoerotic — naked, messy, elegant, sweaty and infinitely watchable. Oh, to be a fly on the wall! Oh, to be the floorboards beneath those bodies!

photos courtesy of VAM FILMS

Vam Films
Belgium | 2020 | documentary | 91 minutes
plays DOC NYC November 11-19, 2020
for more info, visit Bare Movie

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