It seems that a big-screen documentary accompaniment to a big-selling album is now a requisite for emerging pop artists. Over the last few years we’ve seen the Jonas Bros, Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber all on the big screen, in 3D, a well disguised but well produced promotional swag made to heighten the brand awareness of each of these artists. That said, it doesn’t mean these films can’t also be immensely entertaining. I’m not ashamed to say I enjoyed the Jonas Bros concert film and Justin Bieber’s 'Never Say Never' - and now 'Katy Perry: Part of Me'.
Katy Perry: Part of Me (2012) dir. Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz
By Alan Bacchus
There’s something fascinating about looking behind the curtain of the creation and process of art. Whether it’s the vérité peak behind the stardom of Bob Dylan in Don’t Look Back or the sensation of following Elvis on the road in Elvis on Tour or the manicured bubble gum pop of superstar du jour Katy Perry, the process of creating celebrities is captivating.
In Part of Me, as customary to these films, we see a mix of concert footage from the recent worldwide tour, backstage antics (heavily filtered for a G rating) and a look back to the beginnings and the long road to overnight success. For Perry it began as the daughter of an evangelical preacher, thus she was a bible-thumping child who started singing Christian tunes and then (sort of) rebelled into conventional mainstream pop. After moving through a few record labels without success she found her niche, her voice and her brand in Capital Records. Her salacious “I Kissed a Girl” launched her permanently into the stratosphere of celebrity in her mid-twenties after years of toil and failure.
Her well documented marriage and break-up with Russell Brand gets good coverage and, to her credit, Perry’s not shy to show the ups and downs of the relationship, all structured neatly in classical screenwriting form.
The fact is, Katy Perry: Part of Me is good storytelling with personable characters, both genuine and real, high stakes, high pressure and a rollercoaster of emotions. What emerges in this film and in the others cited is a dedication to both the craft and creativity of the business. It’s a 24-7 job to be a celebrity with total life-immersion into the world. The perks are there, but at the sacrifice of a normal life.
I don’t own any of Perry’s music, and for me 90 minutes is just enough to learn to appreciate Katy Perry as an artist, and to tap my foot to the admittedly fun pop anthem "Firework".
Katy Perry: Part of Me is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Paramount Home Entertainment.