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Wink And A Smile - Movie Review - 2009

Burlesque as Self Empowerment

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Miss Indigo Blue in
First Run Features
Deirdre Timmons' first feature, A Wink And A Smile, follows ten Seattle women -- a homemaker, reporter, doctor, opera singer, taxidermist and college student, among the others -- as they venture forth to self discovery while learning the art of the striptease and integrating the spirit of burlesque into their lives.

As its title indicates, the film's tone is lighthearted and humorous, but it is also an affirmation of the physical and emotional liberation the women realize as they explore and reveal their inner vamp and revel in their sexuality. This is a film about self-empowerment.

Laying Burlesque Bare

As the central character in A Wink And A Smile, seasoned stripper and headmistress of the Seattle Academy of Burlesque, Miss Indigo Blue takes a humorous yet serious tutorial tone as she initiates her workshop students and informs the film's audience about the artistry, philosophy and history of burlesque.

The film opens with a performance by Ms. Blue, who skillfully reveals bits of herself by flashing successively smaller indigo-colored feather fans. But Ms. Blue is also a skilled raconteur, and her play by play voice over commentary about other performances presented in the film is as entertaining as her fan dance. "In burlesque," she states simply, "the performer arrives on stage with some clothing on and after some magic happens, leave the stage with less clothing on." The magic, as she puts it, is the artistry, flirtatiousness, fantasy, charm, humor and sexuality of the person performing the tease.

Along with Ms. Blue's performance, we are treated to her voice over commentary on other performances by Seattle's flock of seasoned strippers -- including Shanghai Pearl, Tamara The Trapeze Lady, Lily Vertaine (who not only strips, but in the process transforms herself into a Picasso painting) and Inga Ingenue, as well as male strippers Waxie Moon and Ultra. Their performances represent a wider range of expressions than you might expect, unless you're already a connoisseur of this performance art that is, as indicated in A Wink And A Smile, increasing in popularity.

Striptease As A Learning Experience

The workshop students are an appealing group of likeable women, each of whom has a good reason for taking the course, and clear goals they wish to attain. They are articulate women, representing a wide variety of ages, body types, professions, lifestyles and walks of life. They're all eager to explore themselves and expand their horizons.

They've got a lot to learn in six weeks. Some find it difficult to discover their personal style, others are more challenged by the task of gracefully negotiating the requisite parade of steps, bumps and grinds. As we see in watching their rehearsals and in close up interviews, all are forced to confront their inhibitions and fears of standing clad in skimpy fringe and tassles in front of their family and friends and the strangers who come to see their debut recital, presented as the culmination of A Wink And A Smle.

The film is as much about their quest for self discovery, personal liberation and empowerment as it is about the show they ultimately present. As such, it allows you to reflect on your own curiosity, while watching and enjoying their successes. But, if you're scandalized by nudity, suggestive dancing and sexual fantasy, this may not be the film for you--although you might actually find it liberating, too. Anyway, for a bit of a guilty pleasure, take a peek at the trailer.

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Film Details:

A Wink And A Smile (2008)

  • Directed by: Deirdre Timmons
  • Running Time: 90 min.
  • Release Date: April, 2009 (limited theatrical)
  • Parents Guide: Advisory for content
  • Location: Seattle, USA
  • Distributors: First Run Features (Theatrical and DVD)

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