Metro Weekly

Madame X

Reel Affirmations 2011

Review by Sean Bugg

Rating: starstarstar (3 out of 5)
Friday, 10/21/2011, 9:45 PM
Feature presentation, $12 at GWU Amphitheatre

POOR ADAM IS not having much of a birthday. First a strange woman comes by his hair salon and warns him not to learn that ”special dance” because it will kill him. Then, out for a birthday celebration at the local gay club with all his drag queen friends, the local anti-gay militia group rounds them into the back of a truck, and Adam ends up tossed out and knocked out on the back of a melon truck.

Truly, it’s a problem that can only be solved through the cinematic power of drag queens.

It all sounds vaguely familiar, but in fairness to Madame X, it’s not every day that your drag super-heroine movie takes place in Indonesia, or sports a plotline built around the mocking of Muslim moralists who insist on women wearing veils, among other targets. As Adam — who also sometimes goes by Eve — learns the ”secret dance,” a form of camp martial arts, he’s also participating in a send up of Indonesian politics.

That means that some of the targets may seem more than usually foreign to American audiences, although the drag farce is played broadly enough that it will instantly appeal to those who enjoy their campy, slightly trashy, pleasures. Luckily, Madame X mostly gets better as it goes on — the lackluster choreography at the beginning gives way to some nicely, if cheaply, stages ”fight” sequences at the end.

Although, fair warning, attitudes towards transgender inclusive language are a little different in Madame X — everyone’s apparently a ”faggot” or a ”tranny,” even to the faggots and trannies themselves. Or perhaps the subtitles lose something in translation. That, and the occasionally tepid energy of the scenes, make Madame X more of a diversion than a treat.

Madame X
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Sean Bugg is Editor Emeritus for Metro Weekly.