#REVIEW: “BEYONCÉ: LIFE IS BUT A DREAM”
Timed together with her recent Super Bowl performance and the launch of her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, HBO Documentary Beyoncé: Life is but a Dream is a candid look at the life of international Megastar Beyoncé, following her parting of ways with longtime Manager and Father Matthew Knowles. We get a candid glimpse of her in self-shot Footage recorded on her Laptop, cut with an Interview in the present with Director/Writer Ilan Benatar, as the Mother of Blue Ivy. The Film also is comprised of never-before-seen Footage of her at work, preparing for example, for her the epic 2011 Billboard Music Awards performance of Run the World (Girls), while at once keeping a secret from the World that she was then expecting. Life is but a Dream exposes Beyoncé from a full 360° perspective: Daughter, Wife, Mother, Friend, Businesswoman and Megastar.
If we walk away learning one thing from this smartly-cut Documentary, it is that Queen B without a doubt is fully in control of her Career. She tackles some of the most testy speculations about her, addressing first and foremost her decision her manage herself after her Career had been overseen by her entirely by her Father prior. She explains the need for boundaries, cut with an uncomfortable moment of him trying to discuss business with her looking rather disinterested, then followed by her in the back of an SUV singing a declaration of independence, Listen from the Movie Dreamgirls. The thing is though, we don’t see much of Matthew Knowles who made headlines in 2009 with news of his divorce from Tina Knowles, after it came to light that he had been having an extra-marital affair. Ultimately, that is one thing we truly hunger for information about and that truly is off-limits.
Benatar does some clever questioning here, and ultimately Beyoncé opens-up about which she feels is her saddest moment – experiencing a Miscarriage. We witness her in her most vulnerable state, followed by a Studio Session where she sings about the feeling of no longer feeling her Baby’s heartbeat. She also addresses her unstoppable work ethic, admitting that she separates being polite from being professional, as we witness an entire Production Crew scramble to paint an entire set white because she demands it and apparently asked for it a day prior, but nobody was listening.
Husband Jay-Z also gets a bit of screen time here, with Beyoncé crediting him for helping her transition from just a Performer to an Artist. She differentiates the two, explaining that under his guidance she has learned the value of protecting her Artistry. We even witness a moment from a Home Video back in 2006 where she raises a toast, delivering her heartfelt gratitude for the Man she began dating at the age of 19.
How does Life is but a Dream stack against other greats in the genre of Diva Docs? If it could be faulted for anything, it would be that Beyoncé refuses to give-up control here in her hyper-self-awareness, nor do we ever see her fully let go, like Madonna in Truth or Dare or Katy Perry in Part of Me 3-D, where we see tantrums and exhaustion. Nonetheless, there is enough weight to sustain the Documentary and if anything you will walk away loving Beyoncé more, which is probably part of the whole promotional plan anyway.
HBO Canada airs Life is but a Dream. Click here for more details and airtimes.