As we’ve seen with her photo-heavy Tumblr, Beyonce is really gifted at making you think she’s peeling back the curtain to offer raw, real peeks, to the point where you ignore or forget the fact that you’re STILL actually only seeing what she wants you to see. And her HBO movie, which she co-directed and produced (the latter credit is something she has in common with Katy Perry and Justin Bieber and their ilk, on their concert/documentary films), is a lot like that. Now, I have nothing against Beyonce. I’ve never heard bad gossip about her, ever, and that’s got to be hard to achieve without being a legitimately good person. I also think she is a legitimately interesting person, one who’d have been better served by a documentary with some distance that featured outside voices, created and directed by an impartial (however possible that is) third party. It reminds me of working on Top Model — the girls who walked around conscious of the cameras, refusing to say or do anything in front of them, also never showed you any of themselves; it wasn’t until they forgot the cameras that things felt true and honest. When you give up control is when the good stuff happens.
With Beyonce being so intimately involved — sharing personal video diaries and whatnot — I figured bothering to make this movie meant she had a really good story to tell. Justin Bieber’s was at least about believing in your dreams, or something, I’m told. Katy Perry’s movie turned out to be about her marriage falling apart. But Beyonce’s… there’s a snippet of her fallout with her father after she fired him, and bits about her pregnancy that are mostly noteworthy for not being particularly thorough or high-quality. Indeed, the glimpses Beyonce gives you into anything real are so few and far between, it’s easy to mistake them for larger and more substantial bites than the crumbs they really are, and in the end, it feels like Beyonce simply wanted you to know some stuff that all revolves around this central conceit: Her life really is freaking great, and she’s really good at everything. It’s not much of a plot. It doesn’t come off as vain as that sounds, but watching this movie only made me want to see one about her that really nails the depth and breadth of her life and her persona — one put together by someone who is not the subject.