Newest Review: ... had happened to this young woman who was at the height of her career.This dvd is documentary filmed by MTV over a course of a year as B... more
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Britney Spears - For The Record (DVD)
Member Name: SmoothCriminal
Britney Spears - For The Record (DVD)
Advantages: Interviews with Britney, a real insight into her personality, a glimpse at the creative process
Disadvantages: Lack of DVD extras.
Running at 67 minutes long, the documentary is a refreshingly honest depiction of Britney's life today. Some of it is exciting, some moments are a little dull, but nearly all of it is a little heartbreaking. The first reason to watch this film, above all else, is that for the first time in years, you get to hear Britney's side to the story. Admittedly, she does not go into as much depth as she could do, but it's clearly a difficult time of her life to discuss. She discusses her much-publicised break-ups: first with Justin Timberlake, and then with Kevin Federline. The latter, she discusses as leaving her "absolutely devastated". She explains why she chose to pick up that raser in that LA hairdressing salon and shed her world-famous locks. She even lets us know what it was like to lose to custody of her children. She seems clearly anxious about giving too much away, understandably so, as she is an intensely private person. However, this is almost the appeal of the film. It is not salacious and completely full of gossip and scandal, as that would not reflect the woman who is being portrayed. The biggest shock for my friends who watched the film was not actually the reasons behind her erratic behaviour, but in fact - the reality of the woman who acted them out.
In the documentary, you witness Britney go about her day to day life. Most basically, you see her at the MTV awards, at photoshoots, in the studio, dancer auditions and on the set of two music videos. There is clearly a binary division in the film, as half of the clips deal with Britney's career, as she works to put the finishing touches on her album, with the other half dealing with her personal life. In terms of her career, it's interesting to see how much input she has in her own image, and performances. There is a perception that she is a brainless puppet, who merely does what her record label tell her to do. Yet, in For the Record, you witness the creative process first-hand. In charge of her image, her choreography and even creating the concept for the 'Womanizer' video as she sits in her dressing room, it's clear that there is more to Britney Spears that people give her credit for. Indeed, at times it is these career orientated moments which can prove to be the filler in the documentary. However, they really do appeal to hardcore Britney fans, who rarely get to see the woman behind-the-scenes, working on her craft.
Although there are moments, as a viewer, when you are bound to feel very uncomfortable. While it's fantastic that her Circus album was such a huge success, there is the distinct impression in the film that she was not ready to be working again. Indeed, her Father manages every aspect of her life in the film, something which is tragic for a woman in her late 20s. He chooses what she eats, is in charge of her money and even confiscates her phone. In the middle of the documentary, we see Britney dissolve to tears as she considers what her life is like today. "Even when you go to jail, there's a time when you know you are going to get out," she explains. "If I wasn't under these restraints... I'd just feel so liberated..." she pauses. "I'm sad." It is a completely heartbreaking moment, and it almost makes you feel guilty for witnessing it. With hundreds of people depending on her for employment and profit, it seems that she is just treated as a product rather than a person. And by watching the film, surely you are just fuelling that greed?
However, the film is not all tragic. Indeed, it is punctuated by moments of great humour. Britney mimicking her father and her make-up artist, show a more playful side, as she imitates them with frightening accuracy. We see her dressing up for Halloween and even spending time with her two children, who she clearly adores. It's interesting to see the dichotomy in her life, as aside from when she is dancing, she only ever seems truly content when she is with her two sons. It's heart-warming to see, and is certainly something that you would never experience if you opted to choose one of the unofficial DVD biographies about the star.
The DVD of the documentary offers some scenes which were cut from the original MTV airing but disappointingly, no real extras. It's a shame for fans and casual viewers alike, as due to the short running time, it means that it's not a product that you will ever want to spend too much money on. Luckily, it can be found for only a few pounds on Play.com or Amazon, which I suppose compensates for the lack of content.
Ultimately, For the Record appeals to both huge fans of Britney, and also the more casual viewer. There's enough about her music and her career (it is very much focused on the present, and there is no monotonous retelling of her past achievements) to satisfy her fans, but also, the candour and honesty about her personal life will satisfy anyone with a curiosity for the world of celebrity. It's not so much a cheerful watch, as in many ways, it paints a tragic portrait of a woman who is held prisoner by her own fame. However, what stops it from being a miserable, pitying experience is Spears herself. Her resolve to be happy, her love for her children and her humour, seem to sustain her, and you can't help but smile as the documentary ends. The interviewer asks her how she copes with her life, and she says with a grin: "I go through life like the karate kid", and lets out a warm laugh.
Summary: An honest, revealing and slightly tragic fly-on-the-wall look at Britney's 2008 comeback
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