It took me a full month—every second of the You Tube Red free trial—and about a dozen viewings, but I finally managed to get my thoughts and feels organized while trying to be objective about this amazing human being that I truly love—like a little sister, let’s be clear—for herself as much as her music.
Some of the personal stuff has already been covered in her book, but most is new, as the entire timeframe of this documentary was after the book came out. Starting on her 30th birthday, which she appropriately points out is a time for looking ahead as well as reflection, it weaves its way through the American portion of the Brave Enough tour, with plenty of concert footage from the Dolby Theater show that I attended (thankfully I did not make the final cut of any of the scenes; you’re welcome).
Documentaries like these are notoriously difficult to figure out as far as how much is written and how much is simply “talk to the camera.” There was obviously some kind of framework before it started, but it’s never firm. For instance, various topics might have been on the table, but it’s completely possible that their order was not known until it was assembled in the editing room.
Though the movie is about the recent tour, I do like when they venture into the past, such as Drew talking about how they started in 400-seat venues, then moved on to 800 when those sold out, then on and on and on to where she’s now selling out the Dolby and Red Rocks and the like; he seems amusingly shocked to realize he’s playing in the same place they hold the Academy Awards. Less happy was the footage from “America’s Got Talent,” even if it was part of her motivation to succeed. I really hope that part of the story gets put to rest, as I never again want to hear the words “Piers” and “Morgan” together, not even on the tombstone when she does Moon Trance.
In the live concert scenes, it’s hard to measure how much directing is going on. It’s probably not a live edit, instead having all the cameras record everything for editing later. The rest of the time it’s basically “stick a camera in the person’s face, ask a question, and let them talk.” Feels like the editor is at least as important as the directors and cinematographer here.
The topics are well interwoven with the concert footage, sometimes thematically, for instance her explanation of how she became anorexic leading into Shatter Me. Even more so was the moments with Gavi, both heartening and heartbreaking, providing the impetus for his tribute songs.
Only now am I remembering that the directors actually came out on stage at the Dolby show to announce the taping—to those who weren’t at the meet-and-greet—and asked us not to mind all the cameras swirling around on and in front of the stage, as well as the big crane on the left side of the auditorium.
Lindsey can be a bit of a ham, which might qualify as acting, but basically it’s her—and others—opening up to the camera to a sometimes astonishing degree. At times it’s hard to reconcile how this sweetest of all humans can turn a switch and become such an entertainer on stage, with a swagger she’d never show in real life.
The concert sequences are the main point here, and it definitely helps that they did a runthrough on a non-concert day for the cameras; having been at the show that was featured, I can attest that there were a lot of cameras around, including on the stage, but this was so much better.
Editing takes a big role here from the very start, with video of her as a child and then a similar pose or look in the present, usually with the violin involved. Lindsey has mentioned that the production cost a lot of money, and when I see the picture quality I can believe a lot of it went into renting the best hi-def cameras around. This was shown best in the colorful costumes the dancers and Lindsey–and the special surprise guest–wear in Hold My Heart.
If you watch the closing credits, as I always do, you’ll see a lot of unknown songs, definitely not her own, that must have been part of the background soundtrack. They were very hard to notice, but I don’t mind that I didn’t hear them, that’s not why I’m here.
Like the picture quality above, the sound is amazing, but of course none of that would matter if the songs weren’t worthy. From the high energy of Roundtable Rival to the soft strains of Gavi’s Song, from the deep whir that is the dubstep of Crystalize to the multiple layers of the Bollywood-inspired Mirage, everything sounds perfect to my admittedly untuned ear. But the highlight had to be Hold My Heart, if only for the appearance of ZZ Ward as the only live singer of the night.
While there’s plenty of heartbreak and tough times in this work, it does not overshadow the positivity and optimism that inhabits the main character of this reality play. There are so many moments that are about human connection, stuff you would think are part of everyday life but really aren’t as much as they should be, like when her mom surprises her at the first show, and the moments with her dad and Gavi’s mom. Then you get a snippet of Luna Latte sitting there patiently, watching her practice or rehearse, and it’s so damn cute it perfectly encapsulates her personality.
There’s a lot packed in here; even on the last viewing before writing this I was seeing new stuff.
But as great as this was, and it holds up to multiple viewings, I have no doubt that fans like me are hoping eagerly for a full concert DVD.