Madonna: Truth or Dare

A documentary aiming to expose the “real” Madonna, Alex Keshishian's offers a partial view, a seductive one to be sure but also one that's too glitzy for its own good and shallow, leaving out significant issues of the icon's personal life.. 


Various, often dichotomous images of Madonna are presented, the bitch and the artist, the shrewd businesswoman and the good-bad girl.  However, whatever private life she has lived doesn't make it into “Truth or Dare.”  Steeped in artifice, “Truth or Dare” belongs to those semi-verite-style rockumentaries that promise an unvarnished glimpse of their protags.


Madonna has always had the gift to flaunt the most daring ideas with self-conscious charm, and this movie shows her unmatched knack for treating pop images with playfulness.


Alek Keshishian offers his “revealing” portrait of pop tart Madonna's life during her 1990 “Blonde Ambition” tour, while separating her “reality” life (16 mm black-and-white) from her “fantasy” life (35mm color) on stage. But Madonna is never “more real” than when she's in front of an audience; in black and white, she remains an enigma, an aggregate of images that she herself had propagated and later discarded. 


One of the film’s most touching and prevalent themes is her desire (perhaps even obsession) to be a mother and have children.  Meanwhile, she perceives herself as the big Mama of her troupe of colorful, young dancers, interesting personalities (straight and gay) whose brief appearances infuse the docu with added joyful spirit. 


The deliberate cinema verite style is smooth but often shallow, and the concert song–and-dance numbers are entertaining but seldom delve into their origins or what makes Madonna such an icon for her fans.