Stars: Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Shannon Woodward
Director: Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz
Showing: Southside Cinema week of Friday, July 20. For more information call 297-2821.
Runtime: 93 minutes
If you're a fan of the sugary-sweet song stylings of Katy Perry, then you've probably already purchased a ticket to see her concert film Katy Perry: Part of Me. If you aren't a fan, seeing the film might just win you over with its unbridled energy and surprising candor.
Concert films are normally superficial excuses to promote an artist's records. Directors Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz spotlight Perry's energetic California Dreams Tour, but they never shy away from the dark emotional realities going on behind the scenes.
It would have been easy to strip this movie down to its bubblegum roots and leave out all of the highs and lows of Perry's failed marriage to actor Russell Brand. The fact that the directors didn't try to sanitize the production gives this concert movie some unexpected depth.
The structure of Part of Me is rather standard: It tracks Perry's musical start in the Pentecostal church through her sudden explosion on the music scene when she shocked the music world with ‘I Kissed a Girl’. Her tour - what Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory would look like as a travelling show - is mixed with typical interviews and testimonials.
What gives the film a kick is the truly warm and sincere Perry. As repeated throughout the movie, there's just something likable about her. Whether it's in meet-and-greets with young fans or backstage conversations, once you strip away the cartoonish costumes and playful performances, Perry's proof that "gurls" just want to have fun.
With that fun comes a dose of reality captured by the cameras. Although reduced to an emotional wreck by the crash and burn of her personal life, Perry battles back because of the fans. The most telling scene in the entire movie is a sequence where Perry stands below stage waiting to rise up in front of the crowd. Although she looks crushed by the pain in her heart, she puts on a smile and rises - literally - to the occasion.
You can debate Perry's musical abilities. She's not going to be everybody's cup of hot chocolate and marshmallows with her perky performances. What the film shows is that Perry's priorities are family, friends and fans in the good times and the bad.
It's not the normal revelation one usually gets from a concert film. But then, Perry's not your normal kind of performer.