Film Reviews

Review: ‘Strike a Pose’

Hot Docs 2016


Strike a Pose
(The Netherlands/Belgium, 83 min.)
Dir. Ester Gould, Reijer Zwaan
Programme: Special Presentations (Canadian Premiere)

The 1991 film Truth or Dare documented Madonna’s provocative Blond Ambition world tour, and her salacious behaviour with her male dancers endures as a milestone for bringing representations of queerness to the big screen. Madonna remains an icon, but Strike a Pose asks what happened to the men who were the chorus in Madonna’s controversy. The dancers return to dish dirt on their time en vogue with the Material Girl in this entertaining and stirring portrait.

Strike a Pose invites the dancers to recall their experiences coming of age and, in some cases, coming out of the closet, in Truth or Dare. The film offers new interviews, shot in black and white to mirror Truth or Dare’s underground aesthetic, with Luis Camacho, Oliver Crumes III, Salim Gauwloos, Jose Gutierez, Kevin Stea, and Carlton Wilborn. The dancers revisit their days snapping and swaying with Madonna when AIDS exploded as part of the global zeitgeist. They add that their selection for Madonna’s crew encouraged self-acceptance and self-confidence as they took pride in standing out from the crowd. The film evokes the legacy of Truth or Dare and its positive impact on a new generation of gay men despite the lawsuits and bitterness, which took place behind-the-scenes during and after the tour.

Strike a Pose fearlessly deconstructs the documentary and the pop icon at its centre. The film offers a cutting, but fair, portrait of Madonna as the dancers convey how she treats friends and colleagues like disposable conveniences. Madonna’s sense of entitlement is palpable in the footage from the original film and as the dancers explain how the documentary forced them to expose aspects of themselves they weren’t ready to reveal in a theatrical film. The reunion brings its own catharsis as the men ultimately accept their own failings and expose their vulnerabilities to the group in an intimate act of truth-telling. More personal than Truth or Dare, the revelations of Strike a Pose allow the subjects of an iconic documentary to come back in fashion in their own way.

Strike a Pose screens:
-Friday, April 29 at 7:00 PM, Hart House Theatre
-Saturday, April 30 at 1:45 PM, TIFF Lightbox 2
-Saturday, May 7 at 6:30 PM, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Please visit the POV Hot Docs hub for more coverage on this year’s festival.

Hot Docs runs April 28 – May 8. Visit www.hotdocs.ca for more information.