Queen Bey continues her world domination
by Steph Colombini
I initially chose to review Beyoncé’s new HBO documentary, Life is But a Dream, as a joke, expecting ninety minutes of glorified advertising for her millions of squealing thirteen year-old fans. It’s not that I don’t like Beyoncé, I’ve always considered myself a fan of hers. Still, co-directing a movie about your life? How self-involved can you get?! I entered the experience with skepticism, but was so pleasantly surprised to be wrong. Here’s a breakdown of what I loved:
1. The home videos
The film is a collection of footage from the many cameras always surrounding Beyoncé: TV appearances, first-person video diary entries, and home videos taken by friends and family. These were my favorite, because they are the only parts of the film you know aren’t contrived in any way. We see her as a young girl running around in cowboy boots, clearly a star from the very beginning. Destiny’s Child’s Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams join her as they goof off like “normal” teenage girls singing The Cardigan’s “Lovefool” in their sweatpants. Throughout the film, I was so impressed by how well-spoken she is, and the heartfelt toast we see her give her husband Jay-Z at his birthday dinner in 2006 is a perfect example. Jay-Z is relatively absent for most of the film (strange at first, but assumedly his choice), and I always welcomed his rare appearances. Watching him serenade his woman to “Yellow” was hilarious – who would’ve thought HOVA was into Coldplay?
2. Beyoncé on stage
The early performance sequences are less-than-stellar and left me wondering if she was ever going to stop scatting and sing an actual lyric. As the film progressed, however, I was blown away. Of course the ridiculous amounts of special effects and choreography add awesome to the whole thing, but it’s her vocals that always steal the show – the bitch has pipes! She shows off her inhuman range in “Love on Top” at the 2011 MTV Music Awards, when she first revealed her pregnancy to the world. And she doesn’t just sing – she growls, moans, wails – whatever the mood calls for. Beyoncé clearly puts her heart and soul into each performance, and witnessing the time and effort put into developing them beforehand shows her determination to give her fans their money’s worth.
The documentary has some pretty intense moments, but nothing compares to the time spent on her miscarriage, two years before getting pregnant with Blue Ivy. As she told the story of the missing heartbeat and shared her pain, I cried. In her video diaries, wearing PJs and barely any make-up (although enough to make me question their “rawness”), Beyoncé is at her most stunningly beautiful. Her sheer bliss feeling Blue’s first belly kick is TOO adorable; the up-close and personal view of her beaming makes you feel like the two of you are in on an intimate secret. The one thing I didn’t love about the pregnancy storyline? The shots of her naked, caressing her full belly trying to be the “natural, sexy” pregnant woman – when will people get that’s just awkward?
4. Surprisingly wise life sentiments
These days, most celebrities seem more like robots and monsters than actual people, so it’s always nice to find one that’s actually relatively down-to-earth. “Relatively” being the key word there – her and Jay-Z did spend $1.3 million renting out an entire floor of Manhattan’s Lenox Hospital for the birth of their daughter. Beyoncé says some really profound things, and I was surprised by how many thoughts we shared. She laments the days when people still bought albums and appreciated an artist’s whole body of work as opposed to now, when our ADD society chews and spits out singles one by one. She is deeply spiritual, and thanks God for her success. Even if you disagree with her beliefs, in a generation losing its passion by the second, you have to appreciate the fact that she still believes in anything. As much as I want to hate those who have more money than I could ever conceive, Beyoncé seems genuinely grateful for all that’s been given to her; she’s one of the few celebrities I could see myself hanging out on the couch with.
Of course at the end of the day, the film is just another promotion method for the star to continue topping charts, selling out arenas, and monopolizing billboards, but I’m sold. If the sad truth of the world is that celebrities rule the world, I’ll take Beyoncé as queen any day.