Blallywood Film Review: Life is But a Dream

by on February 18, 2013


Singer. Songwriter. Designer. Choreographer. Producer. Beyoncé Knowles is known for many things. Most famously as the anchoring member of Destiny’s Child, best selling girl group of all time. Now after just four hit records, the Houston-native is a bona fide superstar. With the premiere of her self-produced documentary, Life is But a Dream, she can add Director to her resume.

This film chronicles the most recent events in the music mogul’s life from separating from her manager father up to the birth of her daughter Blue Ivy.  Her story is an interesting one, raised in a traditional family structure; she started singing and performing early. By age 9 she was singing with a group of her friends and by age 15 they signed with Elektra.  But it’s when she went solo that her career truly began.  This film showcases the period after she decided to take charge of her own career in an effort to truly express herself as an artist. We see video footage from her childhood, personal video diary, vacations with close family, and intimate moments with Jay-Z.  There is exclusive footage of rehearsals and shows and the film takes a serious turn when she opens up about her miscarriage and whether she hired a surrogate to carry Blue Ivy.  Considering the many years Beyoncé has been in the business, she keeps a clean image and manages to largely stay out of the tabloids. Unapologetically coy, she keeps her life private and for most of her fans, she remains a mystery.  This film does little to solve that mystery.

The major flaw of this piece is that it really doesn’t divulge any information we didn’t already know. The most compelling sections are the never before seen footage of rehearsals and interview sections where she speaks about personal discoveries, sheds light on the music industry, and discusses her struggles to balance it all.

Structurally, the film is a bit disjointed at times. The music breaks up the film in a timely fashion but the song choice doesn’t seem to fit the theme of the preceding sequence. The song choices actually seem a bit random.  Typically films of this kind move chronologically while this film seems to jump around a bit, sacrificing clarity for tone.  It also seems to lack a central theme until the last five minutes.

Regarding content, something about this film is a bit thin.  It’s difficult to decipher whether it’s because her life is so perfect it’s just boring or if the film actually misses the mark of dynamic filmmaking.  No drugs. No meltdowns. No dramatic hardships. She’s living her dream- she’s an internationally successful performer who is completely in love with her husband and beautiful brand new baby girl. In a way, it’s refreshing to see someone so grounded in the midst of such fame but it hardly makes for a documentary with any real edge.

While she speaks beautifully about the joys of childbirth and how she is a product of her grandmother’s prayers (the inspiration for House of Déréon clothing line), if you’re looking for a revealing exposé where she reveals some humanizing truth about herself, this isn’t it. She maintains that image we know and the world has come to worship- perfect.  Life is But a Dream and like most dreams, you’ll forget about this movie when you wake up the next morning. C+


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