If you don’t know the basics of what makes Beyonce…well, Beyonce, then you may have found yourself a little lost while watching her HBO documentary, Life is But a Dream last night. Her directorial debut was better than I expected and left me wanting more. But not necessarily in a good way. Then again, that might have been her intention.
“The harder my father pushed, the stronger I became.”
Each chapter of her life was marked by a musical performance of some kind, a few real-time clips of whatever was going on at that point in time, followed by Beyonce sitting on a couch and analyzing each of those chapters to a nameless, faceless interviewer. To be honest, the least interesting parts of the documentary were the parts where she was singing, with the exception of a clip of her singing a song she wrote immediately after her miscarriage, which was heart-wrenching. Needless to say she is a phenomenal performer and one of the best entertainers out there right now. She busts her ass and belts her heart out and gives 100% because she knows that she owes it to her fans, and her documentary shows that.
“People don’t listen to albums anymore. People don’t listen to an entire body of work anymore.”
What she doesn’t owe us, however, is her life. Which is why I kind of understand the reasoning behind Life is But a Dream‘s fleeting glimpses into some of the most defining moments of her life. I can only imagine that while she wants people to know her a little better — the make-up free Beyonce who talks to her computer as a form of therapy, not her on-stage alter ego — she has every right to keep her most personal, sacred moments to herself.
“Sometimes I want to stop pretending I have it all together.”
That being said, I would have liked a little more. It kind of ceases being a documentary when it’s not so much documenting actual events, but more just playing out like a video scrapbook instead. There were bits and pieces everywhere, but if you didn’t know the story before you opened the book, you might not have known how to piece it together. Jay-Z didn’t have much of a speaking role, although there is no denying that those two are dangerously in lurve… see what I did there? They’re adorable together, and their love is a lot deeper than you’d expect two such famous people to have. Especially in such a narcissistic business.
Whatever her process was going into this documentary, there were definitely things about it that worked. It humanized her. It made me feel guilty for ever thinking she might have hired a surrogate, and even though she probably should have been enraged that so many people talked shit on her for it for such a long time, she kind of understood:
“It’s crazy to me. But there are some crazy celebrities out there, so I guess they give us a bad rap.”
She’s absolutely right. I wouldn’t have this job if I didn’t find the lives of celebrities fascinating. But what I wish (most) of the Hollywood crowd realized and accepted is that we’re so desensitized to celebrities because they try so hard to make their lives seem a certain way solely for our benefit. It’s push-and-pull that way.
There was no stand-out moment, no big reveal of a major life event we didn’t already have a clue about. But there were plenty of real and interesting moments that made Life is But a Dream worth tuning in for: her strong feelings on equality for women, for instance. Your opinion of her might change after watching, or it might not. Either way, there’s something to be said for a beautiful woman who keeps your attention for an hour and half with her words.
(Lead Photo: WENN)