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'Bare' covers its stripper tale with a feminine sensibility

'Bare' covers its stripper tale with a feminine sensibility
Dianna Agron, left, and Paz de la Huerta in Natalia Leite's, "Bare." (Sundance Selects)

Director Natalia Leite brings an emotional intelligence and sensitivity to "Bare" that raises it above its smutty late-night cable premise of a small-town girl falling into a lesbian affair and exploring the world of stripping.

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Dianna Agron stars as the lost, dreamy Sarah, stuck in a rut in small town Willowpea, Nev. Her life of dead-end jobs and drinking with the boys is shaken loose by the arrival of Pepper (Paz de la Huerta), a shady drifter and grifter with all the charms of a feral cat. Sarah is inexplicably drawn to Pepper, perhaps because her offbeat, devil-may-care kookiness is so outside of the highly prescribed behavior expected of Sarah. As she falls in with Pepper, she dips a toe into the waters of stripping at a local joint where Pepper deals drugs to the dancers. Sarah yearns for freedom from her invisible prisons, enforced with whispers and gossip.

Leite directs the film with a distinctly feminine sensibility — the dancing is all about Sarah's experience, and the languid, meandering sexuality between Pepper and Sarah is so hazily intoxicating, you'll root for the girl-next-door to run away with the drug dealer.

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"Bare"

MPAA rating: None

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Playing: Arena Screen

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