Magic Mike - Blu-ray Review

'The fact that it is surprising to find Steven Soderbergh's film has depth above that of a shallow puddle shows that we have been conditioned to accept no less than this from most mainstream offerings'

The labelling of Magic Mike as 'something more' than a film keen to ogle strippers in various states of undress feels as though it has progressed, in a way, to unfair heights. Magic Mike isn't revelatory, particularly dark, or so deep it warrants resounding praise. It's just a good film. Apparently something of a rarity in this sub-genre.

The fact that it is surprising to find Steven Soderbergh's film has depth above that of a shallow puddle shows that we have been conditioned to accept no less than this from most mainstream offerings. The film has two bona fide stars in Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey and they get their kit off with frequency, why should we expect anything more?

The reason, of course, is Soderbergh, a modern auteur, whose films are shot in a washed, tinted, well-lit style, by his own hand (or his cinematographer pseudonym, Peter Andrews). In these hands Magic Mike becomes more than a Drama about Adam (Alex Pettyfer) joining the rich set of lads keen to throw their clothes off. Instead, this is a film about losing sight of our goals, getting trapped and getting out, with Hollywood resonances that start with the fact that this is Tatum's former profession and progress to glimpses of Mike's (Tatum) phone which suggest he has once pined for cinematic contact. The fact that Pettyfer is somewhere warm and full of fake fame, aimlessly trying to find his 'way', in amongst faded glamour, should not be lost on anyone.

Adam and/or Mike may be the protagonist but at the centre there is McConaughey's Dallas, a Sexy Beast-like figure, one step away from being rarefied gangster or certified nutcase. Soderbergh and McConaughey arguably don't go far enough with him. The latter's performance is great and subtle tips to his delusions of grandeur (counting profits in his club whilst wearing his dressing gown) leave us in little doubt as to where he could head, but there's no grand gesture. A skeleton in the cupboard, or an unexpected detour to something completely shocking wouldn't have been amiss here but the pair leave you wondering just how far Dallas has gone off-screen.

The transient nature of friendship, not just in the stripping scene, but full stop, gets more than a look in. Adam's odd declaration that he and Mike 'should be friends', after their first night working together hints at his desperation and innocence but look too how Dallas treats 'friend' Mike, or how Mike's on/off girlfriend (Olivia Munn) sees their relationship. Love - of one kind or another - is absent, but sex is everywhere, something which should not be forgotten come the final scene, perhaps not as optimistic as it appears on first glance.

Spare some praise too for Cody Horn, fantastic in what could have been a throwaway female bit-part in a male-led film. With Soderbergh guiding her and it we should have expected no less.



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