Madonna’s Madame X concert film is compelling and confounding
Madonna’s experimental record Madame X, creatively inspired by her life in Portugal, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart but didn’t produce any hits. Nor did her creation of the eyepatch-wearing secret agent Madame X gain much pop-culture traction outside of her devoted fan base. But at this stage in her extraordinary career, Madonna is – and should be – doing whatever she damn well wants.
Her film Madame X, which debuts Friday on Paramount+, is artistically impressive but often confounding – an apt reflection of the music titan these days.
Directed by Ricardo Gomes and SKNX as the visual companion to her 14th studio album released in 2019, the film – and Madonna herself – are determined to make not just social statements but cinematic ones as well.
Living in Lisbon since 2017 to support son David’s soccer interests, Madonna chose the city as the site of the concert recording in January 2020.
Her guests in the film are sweet and surprising – daughter Estere is part of a group singalong of “Express Yourself,” son David escorts her offstage to a chair in the crowd next to … Dave Chappelle – and the presence of all illuminate Madonna at her most unguarded.
Bookended by the spirit of James Baldwin and his quote that artists exist to disturb the peace, the show also presents Madonna telling the audience more than once during the production, “Don’t forget, none of this is real.”
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