It’s hard to forget the disaster known as Showgirls. This raunchy, misogynistic, sex-fest is mostly memorable for its horrendous dialogue and acting, non-sensical plot, and just the total absurdity of the entire film in general. At the center of this craziness is Nomi Malone, played by Elizabeth Berkley, who arrives in Las Vegas to become a top showgirl. The film showcases an intimate side of the seedy world of the business, with the marquee dancer and her powerful boyfriend at the center of the situation. Within the first ten minutes of Showgirls, Nomi Malone starts off badly as a character. A random guy picks her up free of charge and she threatens him with a knife. Granted, he does come off as a creep, so I understand the “back the hell off” gesture as he’s a stranger that she doesn’t know, but she decides to take advantage of the situation by intimating him to doing what she wants. The introduction of any character is gravely important, as it’s the moment that we see that person at their most characterful – meaning that the defining traits that highlight your character’s personality. Nomi comes across as a psycho and it’s hard to feel bad for her when the stranger leaves and takes her belongings.
However, the entire journey of Nomi Malone is quite bizarre. We never fully understand what she wants or who she is because the film doesn’t seem to know which direction to take Nomi’s character. Is she bisexual? There was an odd, teased sexual romance between Nomi and Molly after she loses it once she realizes that the Elvis impersonator took off with her things. That moment is never addressed again and just felt like a way for a writer to explain why Molly would trust a hostile and seemingly unstable stranger within her house. Given the long kiss with Cristal towards the end, it appears that Nomi is Bisexual, but given the fact, there’s no development in terms of her sexuality, this moment felt like fan service for the horny men watching. It’s not particularly necessary to explore Nomi’s sexuality if it’s not the focus of the movie but it comes across as pandering to guys instead of a key part of Nomi’s character.
Throughout the feature, Nomi actions rarely make sense. Why did she blow up at Molly went she was trying to understand where she was from? We know that Nomi is hiding her past, but her reaction to someone who just saved her life was over-the-top. Why is Nomi pissed at Cristal for wanting her to do her job? If Nomi hates her job so much, then why doesn’t she quit? She is living with Molly so rent isn’t much of an issue and she could easily find another gig. Nomi is not a good person. A lot of the plot hinges on her not being a whore, but she has no issues working as a topless dancer, literally has sex with Zack just to get to the top, and has random, yet violent outbursts for the smallest things. You don’t need to be a good person as the protagonist, but we do need to understand the character. Nomi’s actions continuously contradict her words, thus it’s hard to get a good read on just who her character is. Her goal is to rise up the corporate ladder of the dancing industry, but there’s really no objective in her doing so.
Everything just seems to fall into Nomi’s lap without much fight or struggle and worse yet, she ultimately bangs her way to the top. Understandably, Nomi also did it to get back at Cristal who tried to set her up, but for a girl who’s been fighting so hard to not be seen as a whore, she sure had no problem choosing that route. After her previous life is exposed, the film tries to redeem Nomi’s character in the third act by making her suddenly have these amazing fighting skills to take down Andrew Carver. She also apologizes for pushing Cristal downstairs. This is a case of a little too late. There wasn’t that epiphany moment that made Nomi come to the conclusion that her way to the top was wrong. We need some development in regard to her character suddenly feeling guilt over the heinous crimes she’s committed. On the surface, the layers of her characters are interesting. A small-town girl with a troublesome background escapes her old life to start a new one in Las Vegas. It’s just a shame that Nomi’s character is a complete mess from beginning to end.