'Bare': Tribeca Review

Although Agron is effective in her first big-screen starring role, the film offers few surprises

Dianna Agron of 'Glee' plays a small-town woman who becomes romantically involved with a free-spirited female drifter in Natalia Leite's gritty drama.

Fans of Glee will relish the opportunity to see actress Dianna Agron getting down and dirty in Natalia Leite's drama about a repressed young woman living a dead-end, small-town existence who finds her horizons expanded by her burgeoning friendship with a free-spirited stranger played by Paz de la Huerta. Unfortunately, that's the most intriguing aspect of Bare, which purports to explore serious themes even as it posits the idea that the way to truly blossom is by becoming a stripper. The film recently received its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Sarah (Agron) lives in a Nevada desert town where the chief employment opportunity is working at the local department store. But even that is denied her when she's fired early on by the store manager, who soberly informs her, "You're just not Super Town material."

Her career prospects dwindling and dissatisfied by her unfulfilling relationship with her boyfriend (Chris Zylka), Sarah naturally finds herself intrigued by the sexy drifter Pepper (de la Huerta, in her usual sexpot mode), who quickly introduces her to the joys of partying in Reno and smoking peyote in the desert, becoming so stoned that she barely notices the snake slithering all over her body.

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Pepper works at a strip club — not as a stripper, she assures Sarah, but rather a bartender — and when Sarah later attempts to track her down she becomes friendly with the working girls and even takes an awkward stab at working the pole herself. Her confidence in her sexuality soon blossoms and she finds herself awash in the sort of easy money that few other occupations available to her could provide.

Meanwhile, her relationship with Pepper deepens, with the women soon becoming lovers. But Sarah finds herself disillusioned when she discovers that Pepper is actually a recruiter for the club, receiving a commission for every new girl that she brings in.

The mundane storyline is not enlivened by such moments as when, during a late-night gabfest, Pepper asks, "Did you ever Google 'abnormally large clitorises?'"

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Performing her first onscreen nude scene, Agron is quite convincing as a character markedly different from her duplicitous cheerleader on Glee, well conveying Sarah's newfound sexual freedom and adventurousness. The perfectly cast de la Huerta is equally effective as the alluring seductress, even if her familiar character offers few surprises.

But by the time Sarah realizes that she can longer retreat to the comforting security of friends and family, viewers will have long since ceased to care.

Production companies: Purple Milk, Indion Entertainment Group
Cast: Dianna Agron, Paz de la Huerta, Chris Zylka, Louisa Krause
Director-screenwriter: Natalia Leite
Producers: Alexandra Leite, Natalia Leite, Chad Burris
Executive producers: Dennis Mykytyn, Chris J. Scott, Giorgio Guglielmino, Jasper Zweible
Director of photography: Tobias Datum
Production designer: Lisa Myers
Editor: Joe Murphy
Costume designer: Meriwether Nichols
Composer: Kyp Malone
Casting: Angelique Midthunder

Not rated, 88 minutes

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