Netflix and me, we have an understanding. I’m never judged when I need my Jake Ryan fix and end up binge-watching 80’s classics all weekend instead of running errands. And I don’t think twice when indie film suggestions pop up on my video stream feed, based on my viewing history.
Indie and me go way back. Call it underdog kismet, or simply shared affinity for raw truth. I’m attracted to the underbelly of a story. Those dusty secrets that seem to only reveal themselves outside shadows of blockbuster hyperbole. Any “Feel Good Movie of the Summer”, “Gripping” or “Mind Blowing” promises served up on a marquee of bells and whistles, and my interest is a watered down cocktail during happy hour. I’ll enjoy the flavor, but the buzz just aint the same.
It’s been a while since I felt the warm embrace of indie. And like anything good that you haven’t had in a while, we forget just how much we enjoyed whatever it was that’s been missing – like with great sex or home-made lasagna.
After seeing writer/director Latalia Leite’s movie BARE, I realized just how hungry I’ve been.
It’s been twenty years since walking away from the stripper world, but I never tire of the stories. After reading the synopsis of BARE, I was intrigued:
“A young girl [Sara Barton] in Nevada becomes romantically involved with a female drifter who introduces her to a life of stripping, drugs, and metaphysical experiences that teach her what happens when real life catches up with dark fantasy.” – IMDB
Immediately, I wanted more. How young was she? Was she gay before she was a stripper? What kind of drugs did she take? Of course, I personalized the parallels. I was 19 when I stepped on stage for the first time. I slept with women after becoming a stripper. Cocaine and ecstasy were my drugs of choice.
Not only did BARE answer my questions about young Sara’s journey through the stripping world, it did something I wasn’t expecting. It drew me back into mine.
There I was, tucked safely in bed – my laptop streaming – and bam! – it was 1987. As Sara (played by Glee’s Diana Agron) explored her new world, I was transported back to my old one.
So vividly, was my recollection. I remembered my hesitant but determined first steps on the flashing Plexiglas stage, the vibrating bass crackling through the speakers, my stage name being called as the DJ stretched out the vowels for emphasis: “Ladies and gentlemen, let’s give her a warm welcome! Give it up for the sensational, Stephaaaaaaaanieeeeee”. I could almost smell the cigarette smoke that needed multiple shampoos to get out of my Aqua Net sprayed, Bon Jovi look-alike hair.
I expected to feel a connection after watching BARE, but the intense emotions that flooded through me were a welcomed surprise.
Anyone can tell a story, great writers can make you feel it.
“One thing that I’ve learned, that’s true, is that if you don’t make your own choices in life, the world will make them for you.” – Pepper (played by Paz de la Huerta)
Natalia’s script is beautifully written and her direction is spot on, bringing out amazing performances (most notably Dianna Agron (Glee, Fox) Paz de la Huerta (Boardwalk Empire, HBO) and Chris Zylka (The Leftovers, HBO). With a subject matter that can easily teeter on campy or trite, BARE’s language is refreshingly honest – never over the top.
In a world where most people throw opinions about sex workers into a pile labeled damaged goods, BARE helps us see things through a different lens. We know Sara. Some of us are her.
Whether you chose a life of g-strings and dollar bills or have been on the fast track in the corporate world since college – BARE’s story of introspection, personal choices and consequence is universal.
As the credits rolled, I took a moment to marinate in the story. My lips curved into a smile. Because of this random indie film choice on Netflix one night – I had come full circle in my journey to the past.
There’s nothing like a great movie to remind you how far you’ve come, help you decide where you want to go, and causes you to simply – think.
Everybody has a story. We are all capable of creating our own reality and looking beyond the horizon. Thanks to Natalia Leite, we know that we are not alone.
To watch the trailer click here:
BARE – Purple Milk Productions – Alexandra Roxo and Natalia Leite