'Miss Americana' Review: An intimate portrait of an artist finding her voice and grappling with fame
Taylor Swift's new documentary 'Miss Americana' released January 31, and has received a lot of attention and praise from the public so far.
Swift has never been a celebrity free of harsh scrutiny and criticism and in 'Miss Americana', Swift has brought an interesting perspective on dealing with such challenges. In the film's intro, we see early stages of the singer's career, with her writing her own songs even as a child. 'Miss Americana' plays out in a direction that leaves the viewer to figure out its message. Among many sessions in studio, and intimate footage of the star's personal life, the documentary shows clips of how the country-pop star has dealt with the public.
There are occasional scenes where the singer has received criticism that comes across on the total opposite end of the spectrum of being constructive. Several comments about the singer going through multiple boyfriends, her weight, and one is left thinking that it was never about constructive criticism. There is a scene where the panel on talk show 'The View' regard Swift as playing the victim in order to win favor, but the documentary finds an inspirational way of retaliating with Swift pushing through and focusing primarily on her music. Swift responds as a decent human being all the while her music is highlighted throughout. It reveals a clever mechanism: not only are we seeing a very real and personal Swift, but her persistent nature to perform and fine-tune her music all the while blocking out the negativity that could cloud her judgment and affect her music.
In several clips we get to see Swift practicing and honing in on her vocals and lyrics. Panic! at the Disco frontman Brendon Urie makes an appearance during one of those sessions and records his vocals for her song 'ME!'. Urie features in the song as well as in the video and we get to see some behind the scenes of the music video shooting.
The second half of the documentary kicks in and we begin to see the true spirit of the video. 'Miss Americana' begins to lean toward how Swift has had to keep up appearances during her entire career without being allowed the freedom to have a public speaking voice, or at least preventing her from offending anyone during her public speakings. It is revealed that the singer had to hold her tongue on political matters and now has reached a stage of metamorphosis with the singer putting her fears behind her and moving in a straight line forward as she shares her views on matters other than just her music.
Bringing in Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn who supports right-wing beliefs, Swift makes it clear she supports the left and that she's not happy with how the public may perceive Tennesee, later calling her "Trump in a wig". There is even a mention of a run-in with politics that country singers The Dixie Chicks faced due a comment they made of ex-POTUS George Bush during one of their shows. The documentary uses such instances to highlight a fact that musicians and artists cannot share their opinion on sensitive matters without being verbally torn to shreds.
'Miss Americana' reveals many intimate and emotional moments. There is a scene in the beginning where Swift is told that her 2017 'Reputation' album wasn't nominated at all for the major categories and Swift, clearly hurt, handles it like a true artist saying that the next album should be better. There are several scenes with Swift's mother Andrea Swift. Andrea had been diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and the documentary showcases the mother-daughter relationship Swift and her mother have with a humorous scene in a jet and Andrea's giant dog.
A notable mention is when Swift had been groped during a photoshoot by DJ David Mueller, (which eventually led to Swift winning in court), and later the singer gives an inspiring message during a concert for all those who may not have been believed when they tried to tell people that they had been through a sexual offense.
As mentioned before, 'Miss Americana' takes us on an intimate journey with the country-pop star, showing us her beginnings, her rise, her mistakes all in juxtapose to her lessons and her enduring strength throughout, in tandem with many scenes of the singer practicing and recording. Although 'Miss Americana' appears somewhat in diary form which is not necessarily chronological or in any particular order, Taylor's strength and real personality underlines the entire documentary and we are left with a message to all those who have faced oppression that you always have a voice.