Early on in the history of film, stage actors had to make the transition from the outsized gestures and expressions needed to convey emotion to a crowded theatre to the restraint required by the intimacy of the camera. The same contrast is always likely to be highlighted in a film dedicated to capturing a lavish stadium music concert.
Those attending “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” (AMC Theatres) will discover that the titular singer-songwriter – the current doyenne of breakup songs – is aware of this. Just as the smirks and eye rolls of some of her numbers become cloying, the solo balladeer emerges and equilibrium is restored.
While Swift can be credited with aesthetic insight, parents of teenagers clamouring to see her on screen will be concerned with other matters. In a world of ultra-raunchy rap and the obscenity-laden lyrics often found even outside that genre, Swift shows considerable moderation. A smattering of swear words aside, her performance is more glitzy than gritty. So, although her preteen fans may have to be kept away from this production, older teenagers can probably be given the green light.
They’ll find “Eras” a lively recap of all 10 of her studio albums across 17 years. Directed by Sam Wrench, the footage was compiled from Swift’s concerts at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, outside Los Angeles.
This is, then, no valedictory. Rather, it’s a powerful summation of Swift’s life and work so far. The idea is to craft an experience just as communal and immersive as the vocalist’s live events. Audience members, for instance, are encouraged to sing along. Yet, in a cinema, the noise is not overwhelming, making it possible to concentrate on Swift in all her sparkly glory throughout.
Little exposition is provided. Instead, there is continuous music, enhanced by CGI special effects and a bit of dancing. In contrast to some of the documentaries in which Swift has featured in the past, no backstage segments are included and no forum is given to her opinions.
Her lyrics do, however, address the loneliness of her level of stardom and hint, fairly consistently, at past heartbreak. At their poignant best, her songs somehow manage to combine the varied qualities of honky-tonk blues and the sophisticated work of German-born American composer Kurt Weill.
Swift found the Eras tour helped her ‘make sense’ of her stardom and journey, as she shared with fans on a social media video during the tour.
“I’ve just never been this happy in my life in all aspects of my life ever. And I just want to thank you for being a part of that,” she said.
“It’s not just a tour. I just sort of feel like my life finally feels like it makes sense.”
Picture: Taylor Swift attends a premiere for “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” in Los Angeles, 11th October 2023. (OSV News photo/Mario Anzuoni, Reuters)