like a prayer, documentary, madonna fans, Aldo Diaz,

Have you ever been to a low budget wedding where they forgo the professional photographer in favor of cell phone paparazzi?  Seems anyone can wave a camera phone around and call themselves an artist. That doesn’t make the results worthy of the big screen. Like a Prayer should never have made it past YouTube.  A personal project of Oxana Nabokova, this documentary follows, with excruciating detail, five crazed Madonna fans. No detail was left out, except what brand of toothpaste was used. The sole professional on the crew, the voice-over artist, who narrated the film, spoke in a manner so computerized sounding it was better-suited for a GPS voice assistant. Ever heard of editing? Here’s an idea, hire a professional crew. There’s a lot of unemployed talent out there.

Despite everything that was included, there were still so many questions left unanswered about Oxana who was inspired by Madonna to leave Siberia and take a crummy apartment in New York City. I’m guessing her first jobs didn’t pay too well, and yet she jets around the globe following her idol. Madonna seems to have been smitten with this adorable blond’s exotic accent. After being noticed in the audience several times, a relationship of sorts develops where Madonna repeatedly invites her onto the stage to awkwardly dance and at one point even suggestively bites her finger. Sounds like someone has a girl crush. Is that why Oxana gets those free tickets? That’s a story I’d like to hear more about.

Oxana calls the film very psychological, yet the documentary merely skims the surface, never dipping toes anywhere near the insight pond. We hear about post-concert inspiration to better one’s life, get in shape, find an apartment, get a better job, or move to the big city. Why? After seeing Madonna will my acne clear up, I find the love of my life, get that kitten for Christmas or win a million bucks in the lotto? What is it about Madonna that causes cult-like behavior? One fan scraped together $10,000 for a VIP concert and said it was worth every penny. Really? What would possess an ordinary person to attend 40-plus concerts, especially when they can’t afford it?

We first meet super fan Israel Henriques from Australia. The amount of minutia put forward made me think the entire film was solely about him. Henriques attended 90 concerts on a single Madonna tour. What does this guy do for a living? He’s certainly famous in Madonna World for always being in the front row wearing the most swag.  He reminds me of those sports fanatics who over-identify with their teams.

Jenny Crooks, a middle-aged Brit was a hoot, in small doses. Clearly, her wealthy husband is bankrolling an obsession, keeping her occupied with pre-planning, sewing costumes, booking flights, hotels, and planning again for the next concert. It’s unclear what kind of job she has that allows her so much time off. I’m guessing Madonna means female empowerment to her, but that’s just a guess. What makes this woman tick and why is all her energy spent away from her “real” life back on earth?

Jeannie Buxo also drank the Madonna concert punch and after a few sips, her life magically improved. The elixir cost her several weeks wages but inspired her at age 40 to leave her parents home and get her own apartment. Amazing! All thanks to Madonna.

The last interview subject, a teen living in backwater Russia, is the highlight of the film. Oxana befriends the boy via some fan site and decides to score free concert tickets and fly him to a Philippines concert. Does Oxana have a sugar daddy/momma? Details, please. The Russian boy’s obsession with Madonna is almost understandable as it appears he will soon be questioning his sexuality, and, well, Madonna has a lot of gay fans. Is it something about her lyrics? Her politics? Her stage performances? Who knows.

If Oxana had collected cell phone videos from her subjects the results might have been more interesting….. or not.