You can say what you want about American pop sensation Katy Perry, but you can’t call her a failure. With 102 awards from all over the world in all sorts of categories, she’s amongst the brightest stars to ever grace the airwaves with her vocal prowess. It was only a matter of time before her loyal fan base – appropriately donned the Katy Kats – would be rewarded with an in depth look at her rise to stardom, and fortunately for them, that time is now. Directors Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz, of reality television fame, followed our beloved star for a year, during her 2011 worldwide tour, and have prepared a 3D documentary/concert film for the viewing pleasure of fans nation – perhaps even world- wide.
Unlike the previous films for which this formula was applied, Katy’s journey is that much more interesting because her route to route wasn’t a beaten path. While the rest of her cohorts may have faced their few obstacles here and there, Katy seems to have had to jump through hoops at every juncture on the way. From her childhood, being the daughter of travelling Pentecostal preachers, to her battles with executives and labels in the industry, calling Ms. Perry an “overnight sensation” would be the farthest thing from the truth. While it is true that she hasn’t had the roughest of lives, she definitely has an understanding of struggle and the film successfully conveys why she is deserving of all of her fame and success. It’s truly an experience meeting her and all the people around her who make her existence as a star possible. From her sister, who takes care of many aspects of her career – including the role of “Last Friday Night’s” Kathy Beth Terry – to her unimpressed grandmother, there is no shortage of characters in Ms. Perry’s world, that can truly take you on a rollercoaster of emotion seeing them in their day to day lives.
Still, the most interesting and engaging aspect of the film stems from its coverage of her 14-month marriage with Russell Brand. Following them from the early stages of their matrimony, the cameras capture all the hardships of two people who have achieved international success, trying to balance their conjoined personal lives and their budding careers. With Katy trying to salvage what the two of them share, we see her reaching out to give life to their bond in a fashion that doesn’t seem reciprocated. Watching her attribute valuable time to make phone calls and take days off the tour to travel cross earth to visit, the bulk of the film’s emotional pull comes from seeing their relationship fall apart. It’s truly difficult to watch, as she has to go on stage, night after night, and profess her love to a man she is secretly falling away from. Whether you see it as a tragedy of romance or a testament to her dedication to the music is moot, as these moments are undeniably heartfelt. It’s these instances that the film rises above the rest of the concert documentaries that we’ve seen thus far.
Sadly, on many instances, the filmmakers' influence becomes somewhat apparent. While I wouldn’t detract from the overall emotional impact of Katy’s hardships on her being, there are flashes where one gets a feeling that the effect is done up. Its not so much of a distraction as it is a subtle dramatization to capture moments that’d be near impossible to translate to film, but it is noticeable and deserves mention, given the nature of the film. I’ve always stood behind the notion that there is no true “reality” media, but that if the steps taken are done so in a way to give value to the truth of the matter, then nothing is lost in translation, and I strongly feel that this is the case with PIECES OF ME.
While the film plays very formulaically, similar to the Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Jonas Brother’s forays, it has one thing that truly makes it stand out from the rest. Starring an artist who has travelled a much more uphill road on her way to success – is a hell of a lot more spunky and energetic – KATY PERRY: PART OF ME is a movie that will thrill all the die hard fans of the singer and perhaps capture the hearts of a few others. It isn’t a movie that’s going to appeal to everybody – nor is it one that should – but for those who have a love for the singer, the pop genre, or for the struggles of the music industry and/or for life as a whole, you’ll walk away with an appreciation of the undeniably talented Katy Perry.
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