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Naked Acts movie review & film summary (2024)

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Naked Acts movie review & film summary (2024)

As an adult, Cicely, wants to be an actress but not like her mother, who she deems lowly for her choice in film roles. An old boyfriend offers Cicely a role in an “art film” in which she is supposed to be nude. She is reluctant, convincing the producer to let her remain clothed throughout the film’s entirety. The “ultra ultra low budget” production is also Cicely’s debut after a major weight loss journey that she endured for 10 years. Though Cicely’s weight loss has rendered her Hollywood-approved skinny, she is still determined to dictate how she wants to be seen on the big screen. Her willingness to stay on the project, illuminates her willingness to expose her newly found confidence, and to keep her body sacred. Even today, the idea of self-preservation as a Black woman actress, in the entertainment industry, remains a bold and honorable character choice by Bridgett M. Davis. 

Marketed as a “fresh, funny, and original” production, “Naked Acts,” surprisingly, doesn’t become comedic until 35 minutes in. The producer’s annoyance with his novice cast is tickling, especially during a silent acting scene soundtracked to anarchic orchestra music. 

The 4k restoration highlights the luminous skin of the all-Black cast beautifully. The alarming red wig worn by Cicely parallels perfectly with the neighboring blue-light scenes. It’s an evocative, eye-catching effect that imbues Cicely with the kind of fiercely independent character she displays for much of the film, furthered here by the keen sense of lighting and fashion.  

The pursuit of safety in the film is tangible. Cicely’s cries for her father, she often reminisces about the safety she felt around him (as opposed to how unsafe she felt around her mother’s lover), act as her building a safe haven for herself, pulling the audience through her own metamorphosis. Throughout the film, the camera homes in on Cicely’s insular nature with closeup shots, and as she opens up, she becomes comfortable with naked self-portraiture. In this visual journey the camera doesn’t so much leer, but quietly studies and encourages her.

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