Review: In concert film 'Renaissance,' Beyoncé offers glimpse into personal life during world tour


LOS ANGELES — In Beyoncé’s concert film, she described her recent Renaissance World Tour as being run like a machine: From lighting to set design, the superstar singer had a hand in everything production-related to ensure her stadium tour exceeded expectations after four years of preparation.

As a perfectionist, Beyoncé was tirelessly determined — working almost 50 days straight — to create an epic concert experience. This comes clear in her movie “Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé,” which chronicles the massive tour in support of her seventh studio album. The film — written, directed and produced by Beyoncé — perfectly captures her dazzling performances for the big screen and somewhat unveils intimate behind-the-scenes footage from a normally private singer, who has rarely done interviews in the past decade.

Beyoncé released her nearly three-hour “Renaissance” movie through AMC Theaters in similar fashion as the “ Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour ” film, which opened with a record-breaking $97 million domestically for a concert film last month. But unlike Swift, whose project primarily focused on her onstage performances, Beyoncé took a different approach by offering more insight into her personal life.

“I’m really excited for everyone to see the process,” she said in the film.

With “Renaissance,” Beyoncé displays more of her human side like in her 2019 Netflix film “ Homecoming,” which delved into the singer headlining the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. This time, she goes a step further into her story as arguably music’s most hardest-working performer, who attempts to juggle being a mother of three children while she maintains her mental and physical fortitude during her tour.

Beyoncé expressed frustration with challenges to her lofty aspirations for her tour and felt she wasn’t being heard because she’s a Black woman. The tour ultimately grossed around $500 million, according to Billboard. She opens up about having surgery on her knee, which forced her into rehabilitation a month before her first opening show in Stockholm.

Unlike her tour, Beyoncé confesses she’s “not a machine.”

But through her aches and pains, Beyoncé — who is the most decorated Grammy artist in history — showed up and performed at a very high level. It’s what she demanded of herself and others who mirrored her mentality to make each show come into fruition.

The film showcases a few big-named performers who separately accompanied Beyoncé onstage including Megan Thee Stallion in Houston. During her Los Angeles stint, Kendrick Lamar was special guest along with Diana Ross, who sang to Beyoncé for her 42nd birthday.

But out of all the celebrity appearances, the one who stole the show was Beyoncé’s 11-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, who made her presence felt as a background dancer. Initially, the singer was opposed to pushing Blue into the limelight of performing in front of tens of thousands.

“She told me she was ready to perform, and I told her no,” Beyoncé said in the film.

In time, Queen Bey finally gave into her princess, agreeing she had only one time to show her stuff. Her first performance, however, fell under heavy scrutiny on social media from those who criticized Blue Ivy’s dance moves as subpar.

But Blue Ivy used the criticism to train harder. She gained confidence as the tour progressed and gained more standing applauses each time she hit the stage.

Blue Ivy’s maturation brought joy to Beyoncé and to Mathew Knowles, the proud grandfather who was shown saying “Now, that’s a Knowles!”

During a stop in Houston, Beyoncé along with her mother, Tina Knowles, drove around her old Third Ward neighborhood before they stopped by her childhood home. The return to her hometown marked another reunion between Beyoncé and all the members of the girl group Destiny’s Child — which included Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson, who was once ousted from the group.

Now, it appears peace is between them. There were no words exchanged on camera except for a collective hug, which Beyoncé called during her narration a “new birth for us. A lot of healing.”

Beyoncé along with her mother shared heartfelt moments of the singer’s late uncle Johnny — a Black gay man who introduced her to house music as a child and made her prom dress. She dedicated the “Renaissance” album to him.

The film squeezed in Beyoncé’s appreciation for her devoted BeyHive fanbase who were often shown in the audience in various cities. During her shows, she expressed her gratitude for them, calling them “beautiful faces.”

Not every song performed on tour made the cut for the film except for jams like “Alien Superstar,” “Church Girl” and “Cuff It.”

And that’s just fine. This “Renaissance” film is more about getting a glimpse into her life – even for just a little bit.

“Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé,” an AMC release, is not rated. Running time: 168 minutes. Four stars out of four.



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