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64. Strip Down, Rise Up; movie review

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Title : 64. Strip Down, Rise Up; movie review
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Cert 15
112 mins
BBFC advice: Contains sexual violence references, language, sexual images

Who knew that pole-dancing can act as therapy for women suffering from long-standing trauma?
Well, apparently it can, as Michèle Ohayon's documentary reveals.
She alights upon Sheila Kelley who has been behind a movement which encourages women to love their bodies and simultaneously unleash their emotions.
She does this with the help of a piece of equipment which has, over recent decades, been associated with strip clubs.
However, Kelley has reclaimed the pole and her classes are making a significant difference to those who have suppressed feelings associated with horrors such as rape or bereavement.
They also raise up women who are beset with self-doubt over their body image.
Mrs W and I certainly did not expect the dramatic stories told by the participants and we weren't the only ones - one quit because she had signed up to what she believed would be a keep fit-style class rather than, in her words, a 'soap opera'.
But she was the only negative voice presented during this nearly two-hour film. Many of the others believed that pole-dancing classes had been a saviour.
They included sexual abuse victims who are encouraged to free themselves.
They do this by wrapping themselves around a pole, dressed in a bikini, pants, high heels or something equally head-turning.
Also, they are prompted to tell their histories in a circle of women who pledge their support.
Then there are others who are now class leaders who have an equally surprising past or even present and have found pole-dancing has inspired them to find new fulfilled lives.
Does it work better in America where I suspect people are more willing to express themselves?
I would guess so but, regardless, this is a story which is worth telling and may even help someone in distress to feel different about themselves.

Reasons to watch: Heartbreaking stories
Reasons to avoid: Quite distressing at times

Laughs: Two
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 7.5/10

Did you know? 
Pole dancing dates back to the 12th century in India and was originally practised by mostly men, not women. It migrated to the United States when exotic dancers from Egypt would perform as part of the travelling circus. The sexual aspect of it was introduced when dancers would try to entice viewers to come to see their shows by dancing erotically. It actually wasn’t until the 1980s that pole dancing became synonymous with bars and strip clubs.

The final word. Michèle Ohayon: "I chose to bring a small, all-female crew when filming the class because many of their issues were related to sexual assault and the male gaze. I wanted the subjects to feel comfortable. Some of my crew had to leave the room at times because the stories and overwhelming emotions that surfaced hit home so closely." EW.com

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